Eating at your favorite fast-food or full-service restaurants may come with a high cost, your children's health. According the the latest research results published online by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a JAMA (Journal for the American Medical Assoc.) publication. These findings are linked directly with increased calories as well as a higher intake of sugar, total fat, saturated fat and sodium.

America's children increasingly eat out, because most kids prefer food from fast-food outlets, and this upward trend in fast-food consumption has paralleled increasing obesity rates among children and adolescents, according to the findings.

Lisa M. Powell, Ph.D., and Binh T. Nguyen, M.A., of the University of Illinois at Chicago, examined the effects of eating at fast-food and full-service restaurants on total energy intake. The study included 4,717 children ages 2 to 11 years and 4,699 children ages 12 to 19 years. According to the results “restaurant consumption among children and adolescents was significantly related to higher nutrient intake of sugar, total fat, saturated fat and sodium. In particular, for example, fast-food consumption among adolescents increased sugar, total fat, saturated fat and sodium intake by approximately 13 percent, 22 percent, 25 percent and 17 percent of the daily reference levels of these respective nutrients,” the authors note.

The results indicate that soda and SSB consumption also appeared to be “significantly higher” on days that children and adolescents ate from restaurants, particularly for adolescents. The authors suggest “Overall, the findings of higher energy and SSB intake and poorer nutrient intake associated with consuming from restaurants suggest that public policies that aim to reduce restaurant consumption – such as increasing the relative costs of these purchases; limiting access through zoning, particularly around schools; limiting portion sizes; and limiting exposure to marketing – deserve serious consideration,” the authors comment.

Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a JAMA (Journal for the American Medical Assoc.)

The researchers and authors of this paper conclude: “At the same time, regulatory and voluntary policies that aim to set the standards for nutritional content in meals obtained from restaurants are increasingly being implemented, and continued efforts are needed to improve and promote healthy food options in restaurants, especially for our children.”

 Video: Lisa M. Powell, Ph.D. is Rethink Your Drink - Sugar Loaded Drinks (4.25.12)


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