Can teens really eat whatever they want?
How many times have you watched your teenage son or grandson wolf down a sub bigger than his head and wash it down with a bucket of Coke and thought to yourself, “These kids can just eat whatever they want”?
It’s just common knowledge, right? Teens can eat any manner of horrifying foods, and they’ll just burn it off. Of course, you relish telling them it will all catch up with them one day. “You won’t be able to eat like this forever,” you warn. “Just you watch.”
Well — you’re right.
But not just because their metabolism will slow down and they’ll pack on the pounds, as we’re fond of telling the kids.
In fact, even if they adopt healthy eating habits as they enter adulthood, the damage could already be done.
All the excess sugar you might think just melts off teens could set them up for serious heart problems later in life.
A new study appearing in the journal Circulation reports that teens who consume high levels of sugar in drinks and foods are more likely to have poor cholesterol and triglyceride profiles, which could lead to heart disease as they get older.
Overweight or obese teens who took in the most added sugar showed signs of insulin resistance, which we all know is a diabetes-precursor.
Many teens get about 20 percent of their calories in the form of sugar — that’s 20 percent that could be devoted to nutrients but instead is piling on the future problems (not to mention what it’s doing to their bodies TODAY).
On average, teens aged 12 to 18 take in 119 grams of added sugars per day. Can’t picture that? We’re talking over 28 teaspoons, which adds up to 476 calories.
This is the first study to look at the link between added sugars and heart disease indicators in children, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.
It’s pretty clear that the habits we develop in childhood set the stage for our adult lifestyles. But this goes beyond the “once a junk-food-eater, always a junk-food-eater” line of thinking.
Of course, you’re probably thinking of what happened the last time you tried to tell a teenager what to do. Chances are, it wasn’t pretty. Still, this is advice that could save his life down the road. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll thank you.
“Excess sugar may cause heart attacks later,” Sify (www.sify.com)