Children Consuming Fewer Calories, Adults Less Fast Food

The National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released two reports with surprising results. First, researchers noted that children consumed fewer calories in 2009-2010 than they did a decade before.  In the second report, fast food calorie consumption as a total part of an American adult’s diet had decreased during 2007-2010 as compared with 2003-2006. The findings were part of the data sets from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

In the first report, the results of the research on childhood consumption patterns noted that boys’ calorie intake declined by about 7 percent to 2,100 calories a day over the period of the analysis, from 1999 through 2010. For girls, it dropped by 4 percent to 1,755 calories a day.

A drop in carbohydrate consumption drove the observed decline, a point of particular interest for those who study childhood obesity. Sugars are carbohydrates, and many health professionals argue that those added to food like cereal and soda during processing are at the heart of the childhood obesity epidemic.

Health experts said the findings were encouraging in the obesity fight, but also cautioned that the magnitude of the decline was too small to actually affirmatively state that the obesity epidemic was waning.

Analysis of the total calories consumed by children and adolescents resulted in inconsistent trends in the protein, carbohydrate, and fat intakes. The percentage of calories from saturated fat was still above the 10 percent daily recommended limit, with children and adolescents consuming 11 to 12 percent of total calories as saturated fats.

In the second report, the percentage of calories that adults consumed from fast food also declined during the 2006-2010 timeframe. The percentage of fast food calories fell to 11.3 percent of adults’ total daily intake in 2010, down from 12.8 percent in 2006. The decrease was most pronounced among the 40- to 59-year-old age group.

Among all age groups as a whole, income had little relationship to the percentage of calories consumed from fast food. However, among young adults, defined as 20- to 39-year-olds, as income increased the percentage of calories from fast food decreased.

Generally, obese people also consumed more fast food, researchers found.