The fact that children love fast food is hardly breaking news. However, the number of kids who visit such restaurants on a daily basis is extremely high, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“About 34 percent of all children and adolescents, aged 2 to 19, consume fast food on a given day,” stated Cheryle Fryar, from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Thus, it is safe to say that nowadays, one in three children eat a fast food meal every day. Worrying as this might seem, it is also understandable, given the invasion of ads, commercials and sales that huge restaurant chains like McDonald’s, KFC or Burger King release every month.
Even if people now have more access to information than they did before and you’d think parents should know better, the number of children going to fast food restaurants has done nothing but increase over the last decade. So have the obesity rates, which have been largely associated with the diet children adopt.
Kids and teenagers are not very concerned about their eating habits, especially if they see their parents eating the same things they do.
The thing that attracts them most is, obviously, the taste. According to Stephen Pont, who is a pediatrician at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, and director of the American Academy of Pediatrics, people are programmed to search for sweet and salty food and children love to eat it. Unfortunately, fast food satisfies the cravings for both.
“A particular challenge with teenagers is that they all feel invincible, and they’re not as sensitive to the long-term impacts of [diet] on their health,” added Pont.
Fighting these cravings is hardly an easy task to accomplish. Most people would put food above their health quite easily, given the fact that the risks are well-known to almost everyone, yet these restaurants’ sales continue to go up.
The good news is that the authorities are now putting effort into reducing the quantities of sugar and sodium used in fast food and have already put forward new regulation that requires restaurants to provide more information on the daily recommended intake and how it relates to their products.
Moreover, fast food restaurant chains need to add more healthy options for children in their specially designed menus, such as McDonald’s Happy Meal. It was reported that McDonald’s has already introduced a wider variety of salads and reduced the Happy Meal portions.
Even if there is still room for improvement, things are looking up as far as fast food menus are concerned, Hopefully, this will have an impact on obesity rates as well.
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