Since the 1990s, about one-third of U.S. kids eat fast food every day. Despite increased governmental efforts to promote healthy eating habits, not much has changed.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that there has been no change in levels of fast food consumption or in the amount of calories gained from a fast food diet.
The study, conducted by the CDC, included 3,100 children ages 2 through 19. Researchers asked the children or their parents about the food they ate in the past 24 hours. The survey was done in 2011 and 2012.
The findings show that some people never eat fast food, while others eat it every day. Adolescents ages 12 to 19 are more likely to eat fast food than children ages 2 to 9.
The researchers found:
- Adolescents got about 17 percent of their daily calories from fast food, compared to about 9 percent in younger children.
- Black, white and Hispanic youth all got roughly the same proportion of their daily calories from fast food — around 12 percent. For Asians, the average was significantly lower, at 8 percent.
- There was no significant difference between kids from families of different income levels. Some studies have found a difference, Fryar noted.
Although calorie totals weren’t included, kids consume about 1,900 calories a day. About 245 calories are from fast food, which is the equivalent of a basic McDonald’s hamburger.
“Previous studies have reported that acculturation to the U.S. lifestyle plays an important role in the adoption of unhealthy behaviors, such as fast food consumption, in Asian-American and other immigrant groups,” according to the study.
Effects Of A Fast Food Diet
Fast food is calorie-heavy, contributing to an obese and overweight population. Drive-thru french fries and takeout pizza are causing a national health concern. Obesity has been stable at about 17 percent over the last decade.
“This analysis found no significant differences in fast food consumption by poverty status or weight status among children and adolescents,” according to the study.
For the last decade, the proportion of calories from fast food has been 12 percent for the last decade, slightly more than the 11 percent previously reported for adults.
“At least we’re not seeing it go up,” said Cheryl Fryar, a study author.
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