So, there is a new report from some of my colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that suggests that teenagers overweight and obesity issues may not be due to a lack of physical activity. Once again, detailed in the School's news feed.
The findings suggest that teens may actually be watching less TV rather than more. It does not mean that they are spending less time in front of some kind of screen (computers and personal digital devices still offer many distractions). The findings, however, suggest that there have not been huge changes in the amount of physical activity.
So, what does this mean? Well, if we are assessing the cost-effectiveness of alternative ways of reducing overweight and obesity among teens, this does give us some insight. While both increasing activity and reducing caloric intake are likely to be bring down weight, the key is that what has changed in recent years may have more to do with caloric intake than with activity. It is not necessarily easy to change things "back to the way they were" but it may be easier (and require fewer resources) to change things back than to achieve new levels of activity or lower levels of caloric intake. While I have made some comments in passing that encouraging physical activity may be a cost-effective way to achieve weight control among children, this may not be the case. Or it is at least likely that efforts to control caloric intake would be more cost-effective.
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