A recent survey gives some hope that there may be an end in sight to the U.S.A.’s childhood obesity issues. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys showed that about 39 percent of American children ate fast food on a given day, compared to 33 percent in 2010. The calories consumed from fast food sources such as burgers, pizza, and chicken also dropped. While it is impossible to say whether children ate healthier options instead of fast food, fast food is generally significantly higher in fat, sugar, and calories than home cooked meals. Nutritionists attributed the changes to greater consumer nutritional awareness.
Overall Calories Consumed Declining
While the survey did not take into account the nutritional profiles of food, the number of calories that children consumed declined during visits to fast food restaurants. Since menu labeling was not widespread before 2010, the changes could not be attributed directly to the practice. Part of the reason behind the decline in caloric intake during visits may be the introduction of healthier options to kids’ meals that began during the years between the surveys. It will be interesting to see how calories consumed during visits decline following the regular use of menu labels.
Adults Shifting from Fast Food
It is not completely surprising to see that children are shifting away from fast food, as adults have been moving away from daily fast food consumption for years. With the advent of documentaries such as “Super Size Me,” fast food has begun to acquire an intense stigma. People are beginning to view fast food consumption as a destructive behavior akin to binge drinking and smoking.
Changing Face of Fast Food
The widespread decline of fast food consumption and the overall theme of eating fast food as being a bad habit may prompt fast food companies to begin making more dramatic changes. McDonalds and other fast food restaurants already offer apples and juice with kids’ meals as an option instead of fries and soda. With the generally healthy themes set by quick serve restaurants such as Panera Bread and Chipotle, fast food restaurants may soon begin stepping up their game.