Kids exercising
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Yay for exercise and healthy food.

Here’s news as sweet as a fistful of blueberries: American kids aged 11 to 16 were eating more fruit and vegetables in 2009 than those who came before them just eight years earlier, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Kids are also cutting back on sweets and sugary drinks, eating breakfast more regularly, spending more time exercising, and spending less time in front of the television, the study found:

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Pediatrics
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The following graph shows the modest rise in the number of days per week that American kids engaged in physical activity (PA) and the decline in the hours per day that they sat in front of the television:

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Pediatrics
Click to embiggen.

These healthier habits have begun making a difference.

The average body mass index of thousands of kids studied increased between 2001 and 2005, then started falling between 2005 and 2009. That’s in line with the results of other studies, which have shown a plateau in childhood obesity rates. (Though as we told you last week, America’s most obese kids, primarily children of poor black and Hispanic parents, continue to get fatter.)

“Over the previous decades, the pattern had been that kids were getting less physical activity, and it’s been very hard to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption,” Ronald Iannotti, coauthor of the study and chairman of the department of exercise and health sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, told USA Today. “We’ve got a long way to go, but the good news is that those are increasing.”