There has been an interesting incline in 2 trends: childhood obesity rates and the consumption of foods prepared and/or eaten outside the home. Could there be a correlation? That’s exactly what a new study might help explain.
Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the study found that both food source and eating location had a major impact on daily energy (calorie) intake. Store prepared foods eaten outside the home, as well as prepared foods –including fast food- eaten inside the home are fostering an increase in total calorie intake.
Through many years of ever evolving scientific study, researchers have been able to tell us what kinds of food promote health, and foods that may harm health. However, this was the first study to take a look at eating location as well as consumption of prepared foods. The large population study used data from 29,217 kids aged 2 to 18 years of age from 4 nationally representative surveys of food intake for US populations from 1977-2006. Researchers determined that the source/location categories that had the greatest increase in percent of total daily calories from 1994-2006 were prepared foods eaten outside the home and fast food eaten at home.
An increasing number of food stores offer their own prepared foods, which may contribute to the significant increase yet the study also found that calorie intake from fast foods has passed up even the calories eaten at school and is the biggest contributor of calorie intake from foods prepared outside of the home.
Researchers conclude that more studies should be examining food source and location of eating for US children as these factors are rapidly changing. As Barry M. Popkin, PhD, Professor of Nutrition, UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill explained: “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.”