Real, honest to goodness science confirms our worst fears about why kids are getting fat
People like to throw out claims of “fast food culture” and “sedentary lifestyles” and “video games” and “not getting off my lawn” to explain the fact that our children, at disturbingly high rates, are overweight and obese. On one hand there’s a glaringly obvious connection between fast food intake and the increase in obesity among young people, but on the other hand it’s been really hard to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Now there’s a comprehensive study to back up the idea that Fast Food, Inc.™ is basically the worst thing to ever happen to the adolescent waistline. A study of almost 10,000 kids and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19 compared what happens when kids eat at home (including take-out) versus eating fast food or full service restaurants.
- Kids in this country eat out ALL THE TIME. About one third of kids ages 2—11 consume fast food on any given day. If you look just at adolescents, that number jumps to over 40%.
- Nutrient intake in kids falls to shit when eating outside the house. Overall consumption of sugar, total fat, saturated fat and sodium were all shown to be significantly higher at fast food and full service restaurants alike than meals eaten at home.
- Want specifics? On days that adolescents consumed fast food, they took in an additional 309 calories, while 2 through 11-year-olds took in an additional 126. Full-service dining led to a daily caloric surplus of 267 in teens and 160 in children.
- Just being out of the house is bad for you. Kids who picked up food to go and ate it at home were found to consume half as much soda as those who opted to eat at the restaurant. “We attribute that to the free refills,” said [researcher Lisa] Powell in a statement.
Such an obvious problem, and one that disproportionately affects poor populations. It’s been staring us in the face. Now that we are staring back at solid science, are we willing to do something about it?
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