CDC: Teens Skimp on Exercise, but Not Sodas

Only about one in 10 U.S. teens is getting enough exercise and one in four has a soda a day, adding to concerns about obesity among American youth, government researchers said on Thursday.

A team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked to see how many students were meeting targets for youth physical activity.

They found about one out of 10 U.S. high school students met U.S. targets for both aerobic and muscle strengthening activities set for the federal government's Healthy People initiative, a list of public health goals.

In a separate study, CDC researchers surveyed U.S. high school students and found that teens drink water, milk and fruit juice most often, but a quarter also drink at least one sugar-sweetened soda a day.

Both studies raise concerns about the health of U.S. teens, and call for increased efforts to get them moving more and consuming fewer sweet drinks.

In the beverage survey of more than 11,000 teens, the CDC said overall, roughly two-thirds of high school students drank at least one sugary beverage a day, including soda, sports drinks like Gatorade and other sweetened beverages.

CDC said the findings are worrying because studies have shown that sugar-sweetened beverages add calories to the diet and often are substituted for healthier beverage choices.

And among teens, specifically, sweetened beverage consumption can contribute to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for diabetes, the CDC said.

In the physical activity study, CDC researchers analyzed data from a school-based survey of youths in grades 9 through 12 (roughly ages 14-19).

They looked to see how many students were meeting the 2020 Healthy People targets, which call for 60 minutes of aerobic activity per day, muscle-strengthening activity three days a week and weekly activities that combine both forms of exercise.

The report found that only 15.3 percent of U.S. high school students met the aerobic objective of an hour of exercise a day, 51 percent met the muscle-strengthening objective, but just 12.2 percent met the objective of combining both activities.

Boys were much more likely than girls and younger students more likely than older students to meet those targets.

The researchers said the findings "justify the need to improve and increase efforts to promote physical activity among youths," adding that public health efforts should focus on at-risk groups including females, students in upper grades and the obese.