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Study: Direct Link Between Childhood Obesity and Dining Out

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In an economic crisis, it would seem natural for children to be eating at home with their families while parents attempt to manage their budgets, but researchers reveal that kids are eating very few of their meals at home.

More children and teens are trading home-cooked meals for frequent fast-food runs than ever before, while the number of obese American kids rapidly increases.

According to the Journal of American Dietetic Association's research, the amount of fast food and fully prepared grocery store meals consumed by children has skyrocketed.

Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, tells Medical News Today, "Overall, this study highlights the continuing rapid shifts in the sources of food for children in the United States -- both where it's eaten and where it's prepared."

Popkin believes the study reflects the need to investigate why children are eating more unhealthy food, and when they tend to do so. "The differences in energy intake by eating location revealed in this analysis demonstrate that eating location is an important factor in the diet of American children." He adds that American youth increased daily caloric intake by 179 calories from 1977 to 2006.

Popkin's study also revealed that the increase in calorie consumption over time is linked to children eating away from home. American youth tends to eat an additional 255 calories per day when they are out and about.

He estimates that kids in 1977 consumed 23.4% of their daily calories away from home, compared to a whopping 33.9% in 2006.

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