Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taming the Fast Food Habit

When we first developed Montana's Fit Kids = Happy Kids poster with the Six Steps to Healthy Weight for Kids handout, step #3 read:
Save fast food for a once or twice a week treat.

As time went on, we realized that the words really didn't convey our intent - to reduce the number of times that families ate fast food. With help from our colleagues at the Washington State Dairy Council, the wording was changed to:
Eat most meals at home and eat fewer fast food meals.

A recently released study confirms that this advice is right on target for healthy families. Earlier this month, USDA's Economic Research Service published How Food Away From Home Affects Children’s Diet Quality. The topline results of this data analysis were straightforward and consistent:
  • Food obtained from fast food outlets, restaurants, and other commercial sources is associated with increased caloric intake and lower diet quality, especially among children ages 13-18.

  • About 35 percent of the caloric increase - and 20 percent of the decline in diet quality scores - is attributable to sweetened beverages.

  • Consumption of all food from school does not appear to have negative effects on the diets of younger children (ages 6-13). However, among children ages 13-18, all food from school has effects similar to those of food away from home (since many do not choose a reimbursable meal).

Stay tuned this week for simple tips to make fast food meals as nutrient-rich and family-focused as possible!

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