Kids today — good news, bad news

My father got me hooked on restaurant buffets way back when I was a scrawny kid. He'd take the whole family, usually on a holiday and always at a Montreal hotel. And every time he'd say how he didn't mind paying my bill because he always got his money's worth with the four or five helpings I'd put away.

Where did it all go?

Well, years later, when we'd visit him during the winter in Florida, it was pretty evident where all that buffet food went. On both of us.

That was long before I upped my physical activity levels a few notches. The older you get, the more you have to do to keep the weight off — if you choose to continue to pack away copious quantities of food.

It's not that way when you're a teenager. New research suggests that the leanest teens tend to be the most physically active and the biggest consumers of calories.

So if your kid can't get his or her face out of the fridge long enough to tell you how far behind they are in their homework, don't worry, as long as they're putting in at least an hour or so of moderate to intense physical activity every day.

If they're chowing down while constantly playing video games, you probably have reason for concern.

But the study also noted that even though the most active teens were the leanest, their eating habits were nothing to write home about. The researchers couldn't compare the diet quality of lean and not-so-lean teens because both groups had such poor eating habits. Their diets were heavy on starches, salty snacks and soft drinks and light on fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods.

And that doesn't bode well for adulthood. The researchers said that the eating habits of youth tend to stick with us as we grow older. They're concerned that these lean teens are setting themselves up for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

A better diet would reduce that risk. The researchers concluded that parents could go a long way towards improving their kids' eating and physical activity habits by taking a long, hard look at their own habits. Something about kids looking up to parents and caregivers to set examples for them.

My father? Well, he's been gone for 19 years now. Felled by a heart attack in his Florida backyard, a day after a major feast at a big party.

I may be leaner than I was when I was 18. And I am trying to cut back on the buffets. But I still get my money's worth.