From 2011 to 2012, about 12 calories for every 100 eaten by American children and teenagers came from fast food, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s only slightly lower than in 2006, when fast food made up about 13 percent of the calories kids ate. Though organizations like the Let’s Move! campaign have made efforts to encourage kids to eat less fast food, kids still seem to be incorporating these foods in their meals.
The CDC monitors what kids eat in part to determine what’s causing the high prevalence of childhood obesity in the US. Around 17 percent of American children — or 12.7 million kids — are considered obese. Eating fast food is often linked with this weight gain, since many offerings are high in sodium and calories. Children who consume fast food also tend to make poor dietary choices and eat more calories than they should, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Around 17 percent of American children — or 12.7 million kids — are considered obese
To find out what the youth were eating, CDC researchers asked more than 3,000 kids between 2 and 19 where they got their food within the past 24 hours. More than a third of the respondents said they had eaten fast food within the past day. Teenagers also consumed twice as much fast food as a percentage of their overall diet than younger children. Asian children ate much less fast food than other racial groups. The CDC study didn't find any differences in fast food consumption in relation to children's economic status or weight.
Though the study’s authors didn’t make any recommendations about what they found, the CDC has previously offered suggestions for reducing the amount of fast foods kids eat on a daily basis, such as regulating the amount of fast food advertising targeted at children. The agency also suggests local governments introduce zoning policies, which would limit commercial food retail in certain neighborhoods to make room for healthier farmer's markets.