Kids Eating More and More Meals Away From Home

Filed under: In The News, Mealtime

Credit: AP

People used to complain that kids eat too often in front of the television instead of at the family dinner table.

Have no fear. Researchers have found kids rarely eat at home at all.

They get their nutrition (if you use the word "nutrition" loosely) from fast-food restaurants. And they're going for the large fries.

Coincidentally, there seems to be this obesity epidemic in the United States.

Research in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association points to the increasing amount of food kids take from fast-food restaurants, as well as food that comes fully prepared at grocery stories.

"Overall, this study highlights the continuing rapid shifts in the sources of food for children in the United States -- both where it's eaten and where it's prepared," Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, tells Medical News Today.

"These results underscore the need to deepen our understanding of food preparation and consumption patterns, and further pinpoint where research and programmatic activity should focus," he adds. "The differences in energy intake by eating location revealed in this analysis demonstrate that eating location is an important factor in the diet of American children."

Popkin says American children increased their daily calorie consumption by 179 calories between 1977 and 2006.

His study found that it is linked to a rise in calories consumed away from home -- estimated to be an increase of about 255 calories per day.

In 1977, he estimates kids consumed 23.4 percent of their daily calories away from home, compared with 33.9 percent in 2006.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.