Children and teens need to cut their food intake an average of only 41 calories a day in order to stop gaining weight, a new study has found. If they don't do that, they'll end up weighing even more than they do now — four more pounds across the board, say the researchers from Columbia University, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.. (Photo: iStockphoto.com)
Without reducing consumption, more than one in five children will be obese nationwide, researchers concluded. In Kentucky, 37.1 percent of children were overweight or obese in 2007, numbers by theNational Conference of State Legislature show.
While cutting 41 daily calories is significant, that number will only stop children from getting heavier. "The federal government really wants children to be slimmer than they are now," reports Nancy Shute for NPR. In order to lower the childhood obesity rate to just 5 percent, children would have to cut an average of 120 calories a day — 33 calories for preschoolers, 149 calories for grade-schoolers, and 177 calories a day for teens.
In order to do so, teens would have to jog at least 30 minutes per day or cut out a 16-ounce soft drink.
The study's "numbers are based on population averages; individuals' experiences will be different," Shute reports. "But the numbers show that the public health world has a lot of work to do to help children keep or reach a healthy weight."
According to a nutrition chart by the American Heart Association, children should consume an average of 900 calories at age 1 and 1,000 calories at age 2. Girls should consume 1,200 calories a day from ages 4 to 8; 1,600 calories from ages 9 to 13; and 1,800 calories a day from ages 14 to 18. Boys should consume 1,400 calories from ages 4 to 8; 1,800 calories ages 9 to 13; and 2,200 calories ages 14 to 18. (Read more)