According to a new study, between 2003 and 2010, the number of U.S. kids eating fast foods at any time of the day has declined. Calories from some kind of fast foods have dropped as well.
Colin D. Rehm, a coauthor previously from the University of Washington in Seattle and currently of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts said, “Most prior studies have focused on menu items, but this (one) actually looked at what children are eating.”
“The take-home message is that changes can be made, whether they are due to consumer preference or due to what the restaurants have done themselves,” Rehm conveyed Reuters Health by phone. “It shows that change is possible.”
In 2003, nearly 39% of U.S. kids ate fast foods at a particular day. It went down to 33% by a 2009-2010 analysis, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.
There was also a decline in the calorie intake from burger, pizza and chicken fast food restaurants. Mexican sandwiches and food had no alterations at all. Rehm noted that Mexican sandwiches and food were only slight contributors to overall fast food consumption so it is very hard to detect a decrease over the progress of the analysis.
The authors have written in JAMA Pediatrics that other sources observed the drop in pizza sales since 2003, which led to the decrease in frequency and calories from those sources.
Rehm said that the trend was likely to be caused by empowered nutrition alertness by the consumers and restaurant reformulations of menus.
He added that “menu labeling” with calorie data only began during 2010 so it should not have a huge effect on this information.
Katherine W. Bauer of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, a person who was not involved in the study said, “Given that fast food intake appears to be declining among adults, it’s not surprising that we’d see a similar trend in children.”
By 2010, Rehm noted that kids and their parents started making lower calorie choices in burger diners.
Bauer told Reuters Health by email that reduced frequency of fast food consumption and calorie intake are good signs of well-being.
“From this paper alone I don’t feel we’re able to say that kids are getting healthier, because we don’t know what, if anything, they’re substituting for their fast food meals and snacks,” she said. “If children are substituting the calories from fast food for the same number of calories and quality of food from another type of restaurant, then they’re no better off.”
Rehm said that U.S. nutritional aims should include reduction of calories and to improve dietary assessment of those calories. “We’re definitely getting a number of positive signs from around the country that our public health efforts to address obesity and improve children’s nutrition may be working, including what we see in this paper,” Bauer said.
Rehm added that other studies noticed the kids total calorie intake and added sugar intake.
There’s always room for improvement in the American diet, but we are seeing some encouraging results,” he said.