Study Finds Eating Out Contributes to Childhood Weight Gain

eating out childhood obesity
New childhood obesity study looks at eating out

How many times have you been pressed for time and decided to take the family out for a meal? How many times is that meal at a fast food joint?

A new study finds that eating out contributes to childhood weight gain, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the number of families that visit their local fast food eatery for a quick bite to eat. We all know that fast food can cause weight gain, right?

But what about the other restaurants your family frequents? Turns out, they may not be so figure friendly either.

The study cites oversized portion sizes and calorie counts as part of the equation that may be making us all a little plumper.

The study in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association examined eating habits between 1977 and 2006 for 29, 217 children, ages 2 to 18 . Not only were fast food meals studied, but also on-the-go options like prepared meals that you may purchase from a supermarket. These ready to go options are packed with calories, sugars and fats, so just because it’s not fast food, doesn’t mean that it’s a healthier option.

The study examines the calories consumed when eating commercially-made food at restaurants, drawing conclusions that having similar meals at home would likely contain fewer calories and would certainly be more portion controlled.

Barry M. Popkin, a professor of nutrition and the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill explained, “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 adds, “By determining the importance of both where children eat and where their food is prepared, this study helps elucidate where children are obtaining their calories. Because of the increased energy intake and lower nutritional quality associated with away-from-home prepared foods, such insight can be used to focus future efforts to reduce calorie intake and improve dietary quality for American children.”

Just the other night, while on vacation, our family ate at a chain restaurant that listed calories next to each menu item. Wow, when you have the calorie information in front of your face, you can bet you make your menu selections just a little bit differently.

Even my 10 year old was hyper aware of the calories listed and tried to find something that wasn’t the equivalent of almost the total number of calories one should eat in a day. It’s not an easy task, and it’s certainly eye-opening to see just how many calories restaurant entrees contain.

Then again, when the plates arrive, it’s no wonder the calories are so over the top – portion sizes are out of control!

How often does your family eat out? Do you shy away from fast food restaurants?

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Article Posted 5 years Ago
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