American children get most of their calories from ultra-processed junk food: NPR


0

Researchers found that 67% of the calories children and adolescents consume in the U.S. come from ultra-processed foods in 2018, a jump from 61% in 1999. A nationwide study analyzed the diets of 33,795 children and adolescents.

Drazen Stader / EyeEm / Getty Images / EyeEm


hide title

switch the caption

Drazen Stader / EyeEm / Getty Images / EyeEm


Researchers found that 67% of the calories children and adolescents consume in the U.S. come from ultra-processed foods in 2018, a jump from 61% in 1999. A nationwide study analyzed the diets of 33,795 children and adolescents.

Drazen Stader / EyeEm / Getty Images / EyeEm

Kids and teens in the U.S. get most of their calories from ultra-processed foods like frozen pizza, microwave dishes, chips and cookies, a new study has found.

Two-thirds-or 67% -calories consumed by children and adolescents in 2018 come from ultra-processed foods, a jump of 61% in 1999, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the medical journal JAMA. The study, which analyzed the diets of 33,795 young people aged 2 to 19 across the U.S., noted a “generally poorer nutrient profile” of ultra-processed foods.

“This is especially worrying for children and adolescents because they are in a critical phase of life to form eating habits that can last well into adulthood,” he says. Fang Fang Zhang, a senior study author and epidemiologist for nutrition and cancer at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tuft University. “A diet rich in ultra-processed foods can negatively affect the quality of children’s nutrition and contribute to unfavorable health outcomes in the long run.”

One reason for the increase may be the convenience of ultra-processed foods, Zhang says. Industrial processing, such as changing the physical structure and chemical composition of foods, not only prolongs their shelf life, but also gives them an appetizing taste.

“Things like sugar, corn syrup, hemp oil and other ingredients we don’t normally use in the kitchen, which are extracted from food and synthesized in the lab, are added to the final product of ultra-processed foods,” Zhang said. “The purpose of this is to make them very tasty. That way the kids will like those foods that are kind of hard to resist.”

In the same period of two decades when the study data were collected, the consumption of unprocessed or minimally processed food decreased to 23.5% from 28.8%, the research showed.

The biggest increase in calories came from ready-made meals or dishes that are heated, such as pizza, sandwiches and burgers, climbing to 11.2% of calories from 2.2%. Packaged sweet snacks and treats like cakes and ice cream came in second, accounting for 12.9% of calorie consumption in 2018, compared to 10.6% in 1999.

When broken down by race and ethnicity, the increase in consumption of ultra-processed food was significantly higher for black, non-Hispanic youth, compared to the white, non-Hispanic population. The study also noted that American young men from Mexico consumed ultra-processed foods at a persistently lower rate, which researchers said could indicate more domestic cuisines in Latin American families.

The study also found that parents ’educational level or family income did not affect the consumption of ultra-processed foods, suggesting that these types of foods are common in many households.

But the responsibility for solving this problem should not fall solely on the parents, Zhang says.

While she would encourage parents and children to consider “replacing ultra-processed food with minimal and unprocessed food,” Zhang says policy-level changes are needed “to achieve a broader and more sustainable impact.”

Take, for example, soda consumption. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages fell to 5.3% from 10.8% of total calories. The study’s researchers noted that the decline could be linked to efforts like soda taxes and raising awareness of the effects of sugar on youth health.

“We may have won this battle, at least in part for some sweet drinks,” Zhang says, “but we’re not against ultra-processed foods yet.”

This widespread reliance on junk food is a growing public health concern as the obesity rate has steadily risen among American youth over the past two decades.

Although the study’s authors said the relationship between childhood obesity and ultra-processed foods is complex, they acknowledge that “cohort studies provide consistent evidence that high intake of ultra-processed foods contributes to obesity in children and young adults.”

Indeed, a Study for 2019 researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that the diet was filled with ultra-processed foods encourages people to overeat and gain weightthis relation to the diet consisting of whole or minimally processed foods.


Like it? Share with your friends!

0

What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
0
hate
confused confused
0
confused
fail fail
0
fail
fun fun
0
fun
geeky geeky
0
geeky
love love
0
love
lol lol
0
lol
omg omg
0
omg
win win
0
win
Stacy

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *