On any given day, more than 30 percent of children in the U.S. will eat fast food, according to a Harvard study in the January 2004 Pediatrics. Is there a difference in health between kids who eat fast food and those who do not?
This study looked at over 6000 kids. Those who did eat fast food consumed, on average, 187 calories more each day than their peers. This isn’t a lot – but it can add up to a huge amount over time. They also consume an average of 9 grams more fat, 24 grams more carbs, 26 grams more sugar, and 228 grams more sweetened drinks. The differences add up to about 6 pounds of extra weight per year in the average child who eats fast food – from eating fast food 2 or 3 times a week. And all the extra calories, fat, sugar, and carbs come while eating less food total.
Beyond that, these kids are missing out on important nutrients for healthy growth. They eat fewer fruits and vegetables, drink less milk, and get less fiber. All in all, not a great trade off! Eric Schlosser’s wonderful book, Fast Food Nation, has helped many kids (and parents) decide for themselves that they don’t want to eat this way.