Inactivity Rampant Among Teenage Girls

  1. Inactivity Rampant Among Teenage Girls

    Inactivity Rampant Among Teenage Girls

    May Contribute to Growing Obesity Epidemic

    By Jeanie Davis

    WebMD Medical News

    Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD


    Sept. 4, 2002 -- By the time girls reach their teen years, they're exercising much less than when they were younger. Though maybe not surprising, this is an alarming finding in light of the obesity epidemic among American youth.

    A large study -- the first of its kind -- shows that by the age of 16 or 17, 56% of black girls and 31% of white girls are getting no regular physical activity.

    "When we're talking about an obesity epidemic, this is what's responsible -- lack of physical activity," says lead author Sue Y.S. Kimm, MD, MPH, professor in the department of family medicine and clinical epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    "Other studies looking at food intake have shown no increase over the years," she tells WebMD. "We have to surmise that lack of physical activity is responsible for this obesity epidemic that's overtaking us. I don't think anyone has been aware of the extent of this decline in physical activity."

    Kimm's study appears in the Sept. 5 issue of <I>The New England Journal of Medicine</I>.

    In their study, researchers tracked nearly 2,400 girls from ages 9 or 10 until they reached 18 or 19.

    At the study's beginning -- and at several more times during the years -- the girls completed surveys with information about activities they were involved in. This included sports, recreational activities (bicycling, basketball, and walking) and lessons (swimming, dance, and gymnastics).

    Throughout the study, black girls had significantly higher body mass index -- indicative of too much fat on the body. By the age of 16 or 17, pregnancy was keeping black girls from getting much activity. For white girls, smoking was more likely the reason.

    Kimm's study "confirms some of what we've been finding," says Monica Baskin, PhD, research assistant professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

    With white girls, there may be misguided thinking at work -- the idea that smoking may be one way to lose weight, Baskin tells WebMD. "We've certainly heard it on college campuses -- the Diet Coke/cigarette diet."

    Though elementary and middle school children get structured PE classes, it's minimal, says Baskin. Also, "the majority of Atlanta public high schools no longer have mandatory physical activity. Unfortunately, that's a trend across the nation."

    When it comes to extracurricular sports activities, many girls run into financial problems, she says. "It's whether they can afford to get into sports outside of school -- whether they have to pay for the activity or a gym membership."

    Also, there are potential cultural issues that drive a girl's perception of weight. "Numerous studies have looked at the differences between black and white girls, and what is viewed as healthy and attractive," says Baskin. Black girls always say that a full-figured shape is most appealing to them and to boys, she says.

    Black girls are more likely to get pregnant -- and also more likely to be "parentified adults," she says. "They may have more responsibility at home, and not as much time to be active. Very often, these girls move into the parental role, taking care of younger siblings, cooking for the family."

    Baskin is also co-principal investigator of a program called "Go Girls," which is conducted through black churches in the metro Atlanta area. Through that program, girls learn healthier ways to cook food and to read food labels. They also get tips on staying active at home. "We teach them how to make the most of household chores -- like vacuuming -- to burn calories."

    In fact, Kimm's study may not have taken into account the physical activity that black girls get at church. "An amazing thing we found was that in African-American churches, praise dancing or liturgical dancing is an area of physical activity that's not being monitored," says Baskin. "So it could potentially be something that's getting missed. Also, black girls may jump rope -- another activity that doesn't often find itself in surveys."

    But middle schools -- where kids still get PE classes -- are where changes really need to take place, Kimm tells WebMD.

    "Traditional PE classes are limited to jumping up and down," she says. "Teachers need to look at it in fresh view, teach girls skills they can take home and do whether there's stormy weather, whether they live in a bad neighborhood. It's up to the experts in physical activity -- physical education teachers -- to come up with creative ways to teach skills so they can take it home."


  2. I found this one to be personally fulfilling. It is a little older but it still points out one thing I really believe. We as a nation are getting fat. This helps point out some things I made in a previous thread called physical state of the nation. I&nbsp;hope that people will wake up and see what a generation has in store for themselves. When are we going to see the light that we have let ourselves go so far down hill that we will need a helicopter and a crane to get us back up the hill. Parents do something about your kids now. Pay attention don't let them develop into overweight adults. You can make a concious decision now to help them later in life. Sorry for the rant just a personal peeve I have.

  3. It is a shame, but I guess us guys will just have to increase those teenage girls cardio. I as a fit person am willing to do my share to help all the teenage girls in america..for the good of the USA of course!!!

    Any attractive girl 17-19 on this forum who would like a "personal" trainer to work on your body strength and cardiovascular conditioning, please feel free to contact me. I have many innovative workout programs that you will enjoy

  4. OW OW to that and I&nbsp; second the motion

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