Story by: Carson Burtron

It’s Sunday afternoon and you find yourself hungry, laying on the couch watching the Colts game, but you don’t want to make anything too long where you miss a touchdown or an interception. Quickly, you grab a Twinkie and a Coke…not considering how unhealthy these snacks can negatively affect your body over time.

According to New York Times, 34.3 percent of teenagers eat junk foods. Two-thirds of those adolescents take in 25 percent of their daily calories from these meals. Eating junk food is not only high in calories, but it also increases your sodium intake. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and future heart problems.

Lebanon High School’s school nurse, Jackie McNutt gave her thoughts on the problems with students eating unhealthy snacks.

“My thing is moderation. You have to be able to balance your meals. Your portions and food choice must be balanced. Kids get in trouble when they deal with processed foods and drinks full of sugar,” said McNutt.

McNutt suggests that teens must continue to stay physically active. Ride your bike or skateboard whenever you can. If you need a quick snack, grab an apple, banana, grapes, etc. and go. For convenience, try eating pre-chopped baby carrots.

LHS Weights Coach Jacob Turner, gives healthy alternatives snacks that teens should consider before they snack on junk food.

“Fruit is a big thing. Strawberries give you the sugar and the energy that you’re looking for. Peanut butter is also a great source for protein. If you need a quick snack, eat some chips with hummus that have beans. Beans are full up fiber, which is a huge key. It’s a big component for filling up,” said Turner.

“I think the reason teens eat so much junk food is because they are so susceptible to ads. Companies are very good nowadays at targeting teens to want to eat their unhealthy foods,” said Turner.

According to US News, teens between the ages of 11-19 who watched one extra advertisement, over the average of six, ate an additional 350 calories in foods high in salt, sugar, and fat every week. Adding up to an extra 18,000 calories every year. The average teen watches 21 hours of television a week, while obese children watch on average 26 hours of television. Not only does television take away physical activity time, but it goes with eating unhealthy snacks like peanut butter and jelly.

In a study of 3,300 teens conducted by Cancer Research, every teen was able to remember a junk food or fast food advertisement while watching television. The participants were “particularly influenced” by advertisements that were age-appropriate and entertaining, and 40 percent said they felt pressured to eat unhealthily.