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Kids who play sports apt to be overweight

Sept. 15, 2011 at 12:01 AM   |   Comments

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Kids who play sports are more physically active than those who don't, but they are just as likely to be overweight, a University of Minnesota researcher says.

Toben Nelson, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist, says the food environment surrounding youth sports is a contributing factor in why kids who play sports are just as likely as others to be overweight.

"The food environment in youth sport is one that promotes lots of the kind of foods that are more likely to make kids overweight," Nelson says in a statement.

For example, parents often rely on the convenience of fast food when rushing kids to after-school games and practices. In addition, the youth sports climate includes unhealthy concession food and the use of treats as rewards.

In addition, youth who participate in sports may not be active as expected.

"Youth who participate in sports are more likely to be physically active. But they're not as active as some parents might think they are," Nelson says. "In an hour's worth of practice, kids are really only getting about 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. The other part of that time, they're really standing around."

Nelson suggests, parents plan ahead for when their children are participating in sports and bring along healthier snacks than ones that are available in youth sports settings.

"They can also work with parents and coaches to provide snacks following games that are more healthy for children," Nelson says.

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