Did you know 25% of young teens are turning into marshmallows?

Did you know 25% of young teens are turning into marshmallows?

As a fitness guy, I try to stay up to date on the state of the U.S. health and fitness scene. Today I found an interested article (which I’ll share later) that stated something saddening:

Marshmallow Generation


1 in 4 teens are not engaging in at least moderate physical activity at least one hour per day.

Now, is this a big shock? Well, not really. The United States is currently the fattest it’s ever been, with an Obesity rate of about 27% and an additional Overweight rate of 35% (link below). This means that 52% of American adults are unhealthily overweight! Physical activity is low, diet is crap, and as a society we’re getting bigger as we speak. So, all that being said, it’s no wonder that the next generation is heading the same direction. Take note, this is important:

As American adults, we are passing on bad habits to our kids.

Please, don’t take offense to being included in that statement, because I’ve included myself as well. The truth is, we are all responsible for how kids see the world, themselves, their health, fitness, education, and pretty much everything else! Shaping young minds is an Awesome (literal meaning) responsibility. And right now, whoever is doing the shaping for the 25% “Marshmallow Generation” needs to get a move-on!

To quote the article:  “Government researchers won’t call the results disappointing…”

Personally, if I look at a group of people and 25% of them are failing at a given goal, I call that a disappointment! So what can we do about it?

1. Help your kids build good fitness habits

  • Get your kids into sports that involve running, jumping, kicking, etc.
  • Encourage less TV and more time spent moving
  • Aim for 1 hour of moderate activity every day
  • Do stuff with your kids! The more involved you are, the more involved they’ll want to be

2. Keep your kids on a good diet, and help them make healthy choices

  • Pack lunches whenever possible; schools consider Ketchup a vegetable (Pro Tip: It isn’t) and the meals are not balanced like they should be.
  • Cut down on sugars, snacks, and processed foods. Encourage fresh veggies, fruits, and meats wherever possible.
  • Make time for good meals. Cut out 15 minutes of TV each day and cook, or get a crockpot and cook a big dish each Sunday that you can have for leftovers later in the week. If you cook in a crockpot on high for four hours, you can easily make two large meals each Sunday that will last most of the week feeding 2-4 people.

3. Educate, Educate, Educate

  • Schools seem to be pretty lackadaisical when it comes to educating kids on health and fitness, so that means someone needs to pick up the slack. That someone is you!
  • Learn everything you can about good health and fitness, from many sources, and share that learning with your kids.
  • Make small changes to your everyday habits based on this learning for 4-6 weeks at a time to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
  • Anything that says it’s guaranteed to be “Immediate/Shocking/Super Fast/Amazing/Buzzword/Buzzword/Buzzword” or whatever is probably a scam or overhyped. Don’t buy it.

4. Be a Role Model (not a dictator)

  • Remember, your kids are looking at you and other close adults as role models, whether you realize it or not.
  • Regardless of what you tell them, kids are more likely to form a habit based on what they see, rather than what they hear.

“Kids start forming patterns of behavior early on in life. Some habits they get from watching their friends; some they get them from watching you. Some habits they grow out of. And some they don’t. Years of sitting too much and eating too much of the wrong foods often lead to diabetes, heart disease, and ultimately a lower life expectancy. Your kids won’t grow out of unhealthy behaviors on their own. They need your help! Without it, bad habits will likely multiply and turn into an ugly, unhealthy lifestyle. And at that point, you won’t be able to do anything about it.”

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg

Reference Links:

Gallup Poll – Obesity 2013: http://www.gallup.com/poll/165671/obesity-rate-climbing-2013.aspx

ABC News Article: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/young-teens-meet-us-fitness-guidelines-21456849