Nobody’s surprised to hear what researchers have now quantified: When children eat out, they take in more calories and fat than they would have at home. It doesn’t matter if they’re sitting down or driving through, at a fancy restaurant or at a McDonald’s, we’re not doing them any nutritional favors when we get in the car to go eat.
Jon Bardin of the Los Angeles Times reports that a study, published Monday in the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that 2- to 11-year olds average an extra 126 calories when they eat a fast-food meal and 12- to 19-year-olds add an average of 309 calories. Full-service restaurants could added an average of 160 and 267 for the two age groups, respectively. And a lot of those calories were of the empty-nutrition kind that come from sugary drinks; kids in the study drank significantly more of those while dining out than when eating at home. (Getty Images photo)
In their report, writes Bardin, the authors argue that government intervention likely will be required to see any improvement: “Public policies that aim to reduce restaurant consumption — such as increasing the relative costs of these purchases; limiting access through zoning, particularly around schools; limiting portion sizes; and limiting exposure to marketing — deserve serious consideration.” (Read more)