posted in Parenting
Want to keep your child at a healthy weight? It may help to cut back on takeout meals.
A recent study found that kids who ate takeout food from restaurants once a week or more had greater body fat and more long-term risk factors for health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes than children who rarely consumed takeout meals.
Researchers reviewed data from a health study in Britain involving around 2,000 children ages 9 and 10. The kids answered survey questions about their diets, estimated portion sizes and how frequently they ate takeout meals. The surveys had photos of food to help the children answer accurately.
Based on the responses, the scientists calculated the children’s calorie and nutrient intake. They also measured their body-fat, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
About 1 in 4 children said they ate takeout food once a week or more. Almost half said they consumed it less than once a week, and another quarter said they never or rarely ate takeout food.
Kids who ate takeout most often tended to have more body fat, skinfold thickness and bad cholesterol than the other children. These are all risk factors for later health problems such as cardiovascular disease, the researchers noted.
What’s more, the kids who frequently ate takeout meals consumed more calories and fat but got less protein and fewer vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, iron, calcium and folate, according to the findings published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The study relied on surveys and kids accurately recalling their food consumption, so it wasn’t a controlled experiment. It doesn’t prove that takeout food causes obesity or health problems.
However, most of the takeout food people eat is fast-food, which tends to be unhealthy, dietician Sandra Arevalo told Reuters. She suggested parents learn to prepare healthy meals at home, or call restaurants ahead of time to order healthier options for their kids such as grilled meats and salads.
Does your family regularly consume takeout food? What steps do you take to try to get your kids to eat healthy?