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Sports Making You Fat?

Do Youth Sports Actually Contribute to Early Obesity in Adulthood?


How does youth sport participation impact the national obesity epidemic in impact young people moving into their adulthood? In the words of many experts, kids benefit from youth sports, but research suggests a correlation between higher caloric intake from junk food solutions to sustain busy childhood schedules. Fast food then becomes habit forming, and thus contributes to weight gain in adulthood when poor childhood eating habits are not corrected.

According to one study, "The available research suggests that excess calories consumed by youth sport participants may come from two sources: 1) fast food and 2) sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juices and sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade and PowerAde). A study of middle and high school youth found a positive association between sports team participation and frequency of fast food consumption among males (19). A subsequent longitudinal analysis of these data found that among males, sport team participation during middle school predicted greater fast food consumption into the high school years (5). Frequent fast food consumption is associated with greater intake of total calories, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, added sugar, and sugar-sweetened beverages, and lower intake of milk, fruits and vegetables, higher weight, and weight gain."

The freshman 15 is legendary among college students, but what is more worrisome is the early onset of diabetes being felt nationwide. The CDC reports, "In the past, type 2 diabetes was most prevalent in older adults. But due to widespread poor lifestyle habits, it’s more common in younger people than ever before." The report goes on to say that a "2012 study published in the ADA Journal Diabetes Care considered the potential future number of diabetes cases in people under the age of 20. The study found that, at current rates, the number of people under the age of 20 with type 2 diabetes could increase by up to 49 percent by 2050. If the rates of incidence increase, the number of type 2 cases in youth could quadruple."

Injuries in youth are also challenging in adulthood. Sprained ankles can lead to lifelong weakened ankles making basic jogging unattractive as a natural option for good health. Broken limbs can also set children out of sports for six to eight weeks, meanwhile the cheeseburgers and fries diet carries them to a twenty pound weight gain within a very limited time, not to mention the metabolism functions that are silently effected during a critical time of a person's growing years.

The message from doctors is simple. We are what we eat, and how we spend our time. To that end, engage in good health habits and your body will happily last for years to come.

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