Junk food and fizzy drinks mostly to blame

Kate Benson

Kate Benson

Teenagers who watch several hours of television on school days consume worrying amounts of chips, chocolate and high-energy caffeine drinks, an Australian study has found.

The survey of more than 18000 pupils aged between 12 and 17 years, to be published today in the journal Health Promotion International, found that 55percent of teenagers who watched more than three hours of television each day reported drinking high-energy drinks more than four times a week and 61 percent were eating snack foods more than four times a week, compared with 38 percent and 46 percent for those watching less than two hours a day.

The study also found that only one in five was eating enough vegetables and only two in five were eating sufficient fruit.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver said the survey supported evidence that child obesity had doubled since 1985.

He said governments should take note of the results of the research and focus on strategies to combat child obesity, including a ban on junk food advertising.

"We know that about 75 percent of overweight or obese teenagers become overweight or obese adults," he said.

"It would be far more cost-effective to address this problem where it starts - with children."

The study's author, Victoria White of Cancer Council Victoria, said it highlighted the need for children to exercise more.

"We found that only 14 percent engaged in recommended (physical activity) levels," she said. - Bombala Times