Today (February 9) is National Pizza Day in the United States. This is the perfect day to visit your favorite pizza place and pick up a few cheesy slices, as if you already needed an excuse.
But is it smart to celebrate National Pizza Day when much of the planet already consumes far too much pizza? A new study shows that children in particular are absorbing way too many calories from the pizza they eat.
The study published in the journal Pediatrics reports that the health of American children is seriously suffering as a direct result of pizza, causing diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
In fact, pizza alone is the second largest contributor to kids’ calorie consumption in the United States. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pizza often makes up a full 20 percent of a child’s calorie intake for the day. Despite the fun of National Pizza Day, there’s no denying that pizza is high in fat — a mere two slices averages about 570 calories. That can often result in children consuming way more calories than they need in one day.
Another shocking statistic shows that 20 percent of all American children are eating pizza for one of their meals on any given day, according to the Washington Post. Teenagers consume even more calories from pizza than children, sometimes upwards of 600 calories every time they consume pizza.
“There are a bunch of takeaways from the study,” said Dr. William Dietz, an author of the study. “But the biggest thing is that parents are serving their kids too much pizza… When you eat extra calories and don’t compensate for it at another point of the day or week, it can lead to weight gain and even obesity.”
The good news is, while National Pizza Day shows that America’s love for pizza is still great, pizza consumption has declined overall since 2003. About 40 percent fewer children eat pizza for dinner than they did a decade ago and 33 percent fewer teens do.
This is no reason to feel guilty for splurging on National Pizza Day. But on other days, try feeding yourself and your kids more vegetables, and try to manage those calories.
“Parents should aim to curb pizza consumption, particularly as a snack where it was shown to have the largest adverse impact on children’s calorie intake,” said another author of the study, Lisa Powel, “And they should put their pizza dollars toward healthier brands.”