US study focuses on children's diet outside the home

25 July 2011

Children are eating more and this can often be attributed to eating habits outside of the home environment, a pioneering new study of American children's food intake has found.

The research, published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association, offers invaluable insights into analysing and combating the growing rise in child obesity rates and the corresponding increase in life-saving weight loss surgery.

Sampling data from 29,217 children across the US, the study, conducted at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, found that the increased energy intake of children (plus 179kcal to 255kcal per day) between 1977 and 2006 was connected with a major increase in calories eaten away from home - a total percentage increase from 23.4 to 33.9 per cent of calories eaten outside of the house.

"These results underscore the need to deepen our understanding of food preparation and consumption patterns," said Prof Barry M Popkin, Professor of Nutrition at the University's School of Global Public Health.

The findings come as a recent House of Lords report, entitled Behaviour Change, recommended the government implement nationally the traffic-light system of food labelling on all packaging as a matter of course.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1 Poti, Jennifer M. and Popkin, Barry M., "Trends in energy intake among US children by eating location and food source, 1977-2006". Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Advanced publication August 2011.

2 House of Lords, Science and Technology Select Committee. "Behaviour Change". Tuesday July 19th 2011.

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