Philadelphia, PA, July 25, 2011 As childhood obesity rises and the American diet shifts towards increasing consumption of foods eaten or prepared outside of the home, concerns about the nutritional quality and the total consumption of such foods are also increasing. According to a study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and published in the August 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, eating location and food source significantly impact daily energy intake for children. Foods prepared away from home, including fast food eaten at home and store-prepared food eaten away from home, are fueling the increase in total calorie intake.
Trends in energy intake by eating location have not been examined previously and therefore this study is unique because of its focus on foods consumed away from home as well as foods prepared away from home. The location/source categories showing the greatest increase in percent of kcal/day from 1994 to 2006 were fast food eaten at home and store-bought food eaten away from home. The increase in store-bought foods eaten away from home likely represents an increase in store-prepared foods, and this is a previously unidentified and un-quantified new source of calories prepared away from home.
Researchers also found that the percentage of calories from fast food has increased to surpass intake from schools and has become the largest contributor to foods prepared away from home for all age groups. For foods eaten away from home, the percentage of kcal/day from stores increased to become the largest source of calories eaten away from home. Fast food eaten at home and store-bought food eaten away from home increased significantly.
"Overall, this study highlights the continuing rapid shifts in the sources of food for children in the USboth where it's eaten and where it's prepared," commented Barry M. Popkin, PhD, Professor of Nutrition, UNC's Gillings School
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Elsevier Health Sciences