Couch potatoes in training!

A clue as to why kids are getting so much fatter these days (not like we were, perfect in every way), comes from a study done on kids in the Boston area reported at an annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In this study, researchers got 45 youngsters between the ages of 11 and 13 to wear electronic monitors that measured their movements for 2 four-day periods. They then asked the kids to assess how much physical activity they had participated in during those periods, and compared the kids' responses to what the devices had measured.

What the researchers found, and part of the reason we're seeing so much more obesity-related problems at ever younger ages (Type 2 diabetes, for example, which used to be known as adult-onset diabetes but which is now being detected even in adolescents) is that kids are much more sedentary than they think or would like to acknowledge.

The kids estimated, for example, that they averaged over one hour of intense physical activity a day by participating in vigorous sports, such as soccer, while the devices disclosed that the kids actually averaged 2 minutes a day of intense activity!

The results were more congruent - but still far apart - when it came to moderate physical activity, such as chores, so while the kids estimated that they averaged over 2 hours a day of moderate physical activity, the devices came up with 50 minutes as the average.

So what's up? Well, it could be that the interviewers just didn't ask the kids the right questions. Or it could be that the kids are great manipulators - they knew the truth about how much activity they actually did but like a husband coming home at 3 am, they gave their interrogator what they thought was a more appropriate answer under the circumstances.

Or it could be that the kids did more exercise than the devices detected. That is, they took the monitors off while exercising because they found them too cumbersome (sure, sure!).

The most likely explanation, though, is that our kids are just like us: they too believe that any effort at all, any hint of physical activity, no matter how insignificant, is exercise.

You would think kids would be smarter than that, though. After all, they can see where that kind of self-delusion leads when they just glance at their parents' profiles.

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