Kids’ BMI rises with price of fruits and veggies
Researchers at American University found that the body mass index (BMI) levels among children rise when parents opt for cheaper, higher calorie food alternatives as the cost of healthy choices increases.
“There is a small, but significant, association between the prices of fruit and vegetables and higher child BMI,” said study leader, Taryn Morrissey in a news release.
Researchers compared data from a national early childhood study with local food prices to reach their conclusions. Even though food prices in general have been trending lower over the years, prices for fresh vegetables and fruits have been rising—increasing by 17 percent between 1997 and 2003.
The study leaders noted that more than 26 percent of 2- to 5-year-old U.S. children were considered overweight, defined as having a BMI above the 85th percentile, in 2009 and 2010, up from 21 percent 10 years earlier. They believe that trend is due, at least in part, because of the rising cost of healthy foods.
BMI is a calculation that uses height and weight to estimate how much body fat someone has. Doctors use it to determine how appropriate a child’s weight is for a certain height and age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010.
On the flip side, the study discovered a “small association between higher-priced soft drinks and a lower likelihood of obesity among young children,” further evidence that food prices have a direct impact on weight gain and weight loss.
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