By Dennis Douda, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 10-year long University of Minnesota study of young people’s health found that young mothers have higher body mass indexes and poorer diets than young adult women without children.

Young moms need to eat healthier and get more exercise, the study concluded.

The study, known as Project Eat, followed more than 1,500 young people from middle school to their early 20s. Participants recorded their dietary intake and hours of exercise, and had their body mass index checked regularly.

Young women who became mothers did worse in all three areas than their non-parent peers. Young fathers only did worse on the amount of exercise they got.

“They want to eat healthy and model for their kids, but time makes it so they have to pick these quick-fix meals, such as the macaroni & cheese or chicken nuggets,” said Dr. Jerica Berge of the University of Minnesota.

Amanda Janquart knowns how hard it can be for young mothers to eat healthy. She lives in the country with her husband and three kids. And although they have a garden and even raise chickens, they still have trouble eating healthy consistently.

Janquart described young mothers as, “trying to eat what you can cook as fast as you can, which sometimes is a frozen pizza.”

“Yea, it’s not ideal, but you get by,” she said.

Here re some tips tips for parents looking to stay healthy:

  • Don’t eat your child’s leftover food. If you feel like you’re wasting food, refrigerate and save for later.
  • Avoid sugary beverages marketed toward kids. Drink water instead.
  • Instead of sitting down for TV after dinner, take the whole family for a walk around the neighborhood.
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