Fast Food Eats Up Larger Allotment of Kids’ Daily Calories

Fast food and increasing amounts of takeout cuisine seem to be a hot button topic nowadays, with news of Happy Meal toy bans and enforced fruit options dominating the buzz surrounding kids and dining out.

While legislating food choices seems a bit extreme, it seems there’s some data to back up the concern over what’s driving the childhood obesity rate in the US. Aside from…well, higher rates of overweight children, some studies seem to indicate that the calories kids consume from fast food and takeaways could be adding to the number of calories children consume each day.

USA Today reports that the volume of away-from-home food consumed by kids has shot up since 1994, and studies indicate that such meals have jumped from 23.4% of what kids ate in 1977 to 33.9% of their diet in 2006. The piece cited the convenience and perceived cost savings that may tempt parents to go the fast food routs more frequently, but dietician Samantha Heller pointed out:

“We cannot control where these eateries are located or how they prepare their foods, but we can decide to cook more at home, which will ultimately save money and help keep our families healthy.”

On the subject of budget, Heller remarked that for the price of a $5 fast food kids’ meal, you could buy a significant quantity of groceries:

“You would have a healthy dinner and leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and probably enough left to reinvent dinner by using the remaining ingredients in a salad, frittata or burrito.

“For less than $30, you can buy enough food for several meals, including chicken breast, mushrooms, broccoli, pasta, lettuce, bread, eggs, tomato sauce and salad dressing,” Heller says.

Are you often lured by the siren call of fast food at 8pm on a harried weeknight? Do you worry about your kids’ fast food consumption or preferences?