Weight-conscious teenage girls are not eating enough calories for their age group. Over one third of 13 to 18-year-old girls in the UK are on diets or have dieted recently, according to a new survey. 45% eat less than 1,200 calories a day — when the recommended intake for a person in that age range is 2,110 calories. And it's not just the girls who are undernourished: 14% of boys admitted to dieting and 25% ate fewer than 800 calories a day. Sigh! What ever happened to delicious after-school snacks? We were all about Oreos and milk. [The Independent]
In high school, I used to have a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast—if I managed to eat breakfast, a bagel and cream cheese for lunch, microwaveable lasagna or manicotti for dinner, another bagel and cream cheese for a 1am, still-doing-my-mountains-of-AP-homework snack, and lots of Coca Cola throughout the day. However, I was also on my school dance team, and was running a mile a day and then enduring what were essentially 3+ hour aerobic workouts. And then in the spring, I would be hauling ass to musical rehearsals. I wasn't exactly sedentary, because my crazy extracurricular schedule (that I refused to waver from in fear that prospective colleges wouldn't deem me "well-rounded" and "accomplished" enough) didn't allow me to.
I think the worry here is that teens from a lower-income household tend to be more sedentary. When your family is from a certain tax bracket, you tend to be involved in things like sports, partially because your parents have the time and money to put you through programs like that, partially because your school probably as the time and money to provide such a program, and partially because you might be wanting to impress college admissions boards. I've taught kids from what some people might deem "the ghetto" and their parents usually don't have time to cart them to soccer practice, or have the money to enroll them in such a thing. They barely attend gym—it's hard to find or afford a gym teacher when NCLB is financially crippling your school—and extracurricular sports are another story. Sure, the kids can always play basketball or go running or play in the park, that's free—but when your neighborhood isn't that safe and parks are full of dealers trying to earn a little bit of money and you have to babysit your little brother because your single mom is working, then you end up sitting inside the house pigging out and watching Spongebob or trolling Myspace.
You know what would really be cool? If MTV could run regular after-school shows on good nutrition and fitness, something that kids could follow along with at home indoors. But that's not as entertaining to teens as Date My Mom, so oh well.