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More Than One-Third of U.S. Children Consume Fast Food

Children and adolescents consumed 13.8 percent of their daily calories from fast food on a given day

FRIDAY, Aug. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — More than one-third of U.S. children and adolescents consumed fast food on a given day during 2015 to 2018, according to an August data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Cheryl D. Fryar, M.S.P.H., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues present estimates of the percentage of calories consumed from fast food among U.S. children and adolescents using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that 36.3 percent of children and adolescents consumed fast food on a given day during 2015 to 2018. On a given day, children and adolescents consumed 13.8 percent of their daily calories from fast food on average, with a higher percentage of calories consumed from fast food by adolescents aged 12 to 19 years versus children aged 2 to 11 years. Compared with non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adolescents, non-Hispanic white adolescents (aged 12 to 19 years) consumed a lower percentage of calories from fast food on a given day. In children and adolescents, there was a decrease observed in the percentage of calories from fast food, from 14.1 percent in 2003 to 2004 to 10.6 percent in 2009 to 2010, followed by an increase to 14.4 percent in 2017 to 2018.

“Fast food has been associated with increased intake of calories, fat, and sodium,” the authors write. “During 2015 to 2018, over one-third of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years consumed fast food.”

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