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Child obesity result of rational decisions

April 6, 2011 at 11:44 PM
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y., April 6 (UPI) -- Unintended consequences of decisions by U.S. parents and schools might be contributing to the child obesity problem, a professor of nursing said.

Susan Terwilliger, clinical associate professor in the Decker School of Nursing at Binghamton University in New York, studied third-graders in four schools in Binghamton and found 70 percent drank two to five sweetened drinks a day; 85 percent watched 2-5 hours of television a day and 42 percent ate two or more fast-food meals per week.

However, Terwilliger says these eating habits are the unintended consequences of rational decisions by parents and schools:

-- Children who are told by parents to avoid water fountains because of germs may drink sweetened drinks.

-- Fear of potential danger can prompt parents to restrict children's play to a backyard or inside the house.

-- Schools sometimes trade gym class or recess for academics as they try to raise test scores.

-- Eating fast-food on the way to soccer may seem like a healthy trade off, but one of the reason fast-food is fast is that its high-fat content literally slips down easily and the quicker and easier it is to eat, the more it is consumed.

"There is a lot of data that say today's kids won't live as long as their parents," Terwilliger says in a statement.

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