Children who eat fast food, compared with those who do not, consume more total
energy (calories), more energy per gram of food, more total fat, more total carbohydrate,
more added sugars, more sugar-sweetened beverages, less fiber, less milk, and
fewer fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
Children age nine and older are heavy consumers of sodas. By the time they are 14
years of age or older, 32% of young women and 52% of young men are consuming
three or more servings of soda a day. A
Missouri study suggested that other sweet
drinks, such as fruit juices and fruit drinks,
when consumed by those at risk of being
overweight, increased the odds of becoming
overweight and of remaining overweight.
Reducing easy access to energy-dense foods
may help to limit opportunities for overeating.
Efforts to increase students' consumption of nutritious food may be hindered by the
availability of junk foods, the strong impact of advertising on youth's food choices, and
private fund-raising efforts that sell high calorie/low nutrition foods to support athletic
and extracurricular activities. To address this problem, some states and school
districts are limiting the sale of such foods and soft drinks during school hours.
Schools, which are required to follow the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for the school
lunch program, are not required to use those standards for foods sold à la carte, food
sold in snack bars, and food sold through vending machines. Schools can promote
healthy eating by providing more nutritious food and beverages through the à la carte
programs and limiting sweetened drinks and high fat and high sugar snacks in vending
School food service managers and other school officials report that expanding the
number and variety of healthy food choices increased the likelihood that students will
select them. This is important because, except for meals provided to students eligible
for free and reduced-price breakfast or lunch, school food programs are not subsidized
and food service managers must sell enough food to cover expenses.
Dietary practices should be fostered that encourage moderation rather than overconsumption,
and emphasize healthful choices rather than restricting eating patterns.
Questions to ask your child:
Reprinted with permission from the website of The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools