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Teenage Obesity: A Lesson from The Brady Bunch

By HERWriter
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 Teenage Obesity: Lessons from The Brady Bunch MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

Like many high school teenagers today, I was both overextended and overweight. I had Marcia Brady syndrome where I tried out for every club and activity without the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” body.

The Brady Bunch was one of my favorite shows. Back then, television was the only screen time most kids had access to.

The kids on the show played a lot more together and seemed to gravitate toward grabbing a healthy piece of fruit as they strolled into the kitchen after school. The Brady kids always seemed to have a balanced home-cooked meal such as “pork chops and applesauce” prepared by their housekeeper Alice.

The large family sat around the dining room table together each evening, probably because their kitchen was too small. I never understood why their father Mike, who was an architect, did not make it bigger.

Even the Brady Bunch singing group featured songs that encouraged activity with hits such as “Keep on Movin’” and “Sunshine Day,” whose lyrics encompassed such sentiments as “I think I’ll go for a walk outside now…”

When I recall walking home from school, and playing football in the backyard -- “Oh, my nose!” as immortalized by Marcia Brady -- I also remember the Brady kids always being active and involved in sports, even playing ball in the house.

That magic 70’s American Way of being an active kid has, in this age of technology and convenience, fallen to the wayside.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” An even more alarming statistic from the CDC is that “the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 21% over the same period.”

A new study from our neighbors in Canada now underscores the importance of “a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training ... as the best way for teens to battle obesity.”

The Canadian study specifically focused on overweight teens within the age range of 14-18. The approximately 300 participants were first all counseled on diet and nutrition and then split into four separate groups.

According to CanadaJournal.net, “The first group performed resistance training involving weight machines and some free weights; the second performed only aerobic exercise on treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes; the third underwent combined aerobic and resistance training; and the last group did no exercise training.”

The joint study by the University of Calgary and the University of Ottawa consisted of 22 weeks each, with four workout sessions per week, for the exercise groups.

One of the main researchers, Dr. Glen Kenny of the University of Ottawa told CanadaJournal.net, “the percentage of body fat decreased significantly more in those who did combined aerobic and resistance exercise than in those who only did aerobic exercise.”

All of the participants in the three exercise groups got results, but those who implemented resistance training also saw a “waist circumference decrease of close to seven centimeters in those randomized to combined aerobic plus resistance exercise, versus about four centimeters in those randomized to do just one type of exercise.”

Study experts report no change in those who only dieted.

The United States government has been heading up their own initiative to combat childhood and adolescent obesity.

According to LetsMove.gov, “kids and teens between the ages of 6 to 17 years of age need to be active 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, for 6 out of 8 weeks. “

It would be really, as the Brady kids would have said, “swell,” if today’s teens could reach that level of activity. However, one of the main reasons many do not is the access to so much screen time on computers, smartphones, tablets, iPads, video consoles and, of course, TV.

Perhaps, it is time for this generation of teens to take a lesson from the early '70s and “grow up Brady.”


“18 Ridiculous Life Lessons from the Brady Bunch.” Web. Sept. 29th, 2014.

“Childhood Obesity Statistics – CDC.gov.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Science Daily. Web. Sept. 29th, 2014.

“Weights plus cardio is answer to teen obesity, study suggests – CanadaJournal.net.” Web. Sept. 29th, 2014.

“Get Active – Let’s Move.gov.” Web. Sept. 29th, 2014.

Reviewed September 30, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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