The Grapevine

Most American Children Have Poor Eating Habits, Study Finds

In a new but unsurprising research, a study finds that the majority of American children are still eating diets that are of poor quality, even though the amount of kids that are eating more fruits and consuming less sugary beverages have increased.

Made over the course of 17 years, the new analysis, published in JAMA, revealed that even though kids who eat more fruits and drink fewer sugary beverages have increased in more recent years, an astonishing 56 percent of them are still eating meals that contained too much salt and had low nutritional values. In short, majority of children in the U.S. still eat too many processed food and not enough fruits and vegetables, among other healthy choices.

According to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, study co-author and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston , this puts the children at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and obesity even at a very young age, not to mention the other types of health issues that can come out from those two alone.

Having more than half of our children eating poor diets is really unacceptable, both for their own health and the associated health care costs over their lifetimes. There’s very good evidence that diets established in childhood and adolescence persist through life… so how kids eat at home, at school and when they’re out with friends really makes a big difference for the rest of their lives,” Mozaffarian said in a recent interview with TODAY.

Per Mozaffarian , the findings on the study were based on the food and diet choices of around 31,000 U.S. children and teens who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 until 2016, with the kids being asked to recall what they ate during a 240-hour time period.

Surprisingly, the amount of children that ate a poor-quality diet dropped significantly from almost 77 percent to 56 percent over the study period. Unfortunately, more than half of American children are still eating diets that are bad for them, despite being at such a developmental age where they should be encouraged to be healthier.

Children eat in school cafeteria Students sit down to eat a healthy lunch at Marston Middle School in San Diego, California. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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