It may be more important than we thought to tackle obesity in childhood. A new study published in Pediatrics finds that overweight teenagers eat fewer calories than their healthy weight peers.
That's right — they eat less.
How much less? The study found that among 12- to 14-year-olds, obese girls consumed 110 fewer calories daily than healthy-weight girls. And overweight boys between the ages of 15 and 17 consumed about 375 fewer calories a day than healthy-weight boys.
This article has its good and bad points but is worth reading. The bad? Self reported calorie intakes, particularly by those who are overweight, are notoriously inaccurate. Many of the heaviest people I know say they eat only chicken breast and salad. Discomfort with the results of eating tends to keep them from reporting their true diet. Normal weight people, on the other hand, have no reason to conceal their true calories. As a result, we can't be sure of the calorie discrepancy that is reported here.
The good? This article focuses on the fact that weight gain is not something that can simply be reversed by calorie restriction. I firmly agree with the observation that weight gain changes the body, often irrevocably. Cutting off obesity before it gets started is the most important thing we can do for our children's' health. Ask anyone whose struggled with obesity and they will tell you that, once established, it is a lifelong battle.