US school lunch is getting better

US children eat more fast food than school lunches

Philadelphia / New York - American children are eating more and more - and more and more outside their home. According to a study published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, schoolchildren now consume more calories from fast food than from school meals. The study by Barry Popkin's team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

American children ate an average of 179 kilocalories more per day in 2006 than in 1977/1978. Instead of a good 1,800 kilocalories, it is now around 2,000 a day. And more and more often this energy does not come from the parents' home: In 1977, 77 percent, more than three quarters of the food came from your own kitchen, 30 years later it was only two thirds, at 66 percent. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found the lowest value among young people at 63 percent. But even among the small children, only 71 percent came from the kitchen at home. In 1977 it was still 85 percent.

Share of fast food increased

In the decade up to 2006, the share of school meals in calorie intake fell across all age groups from nine to eight percent. The value of the restaurants comes close to that at five percent. And that doesn't even include McDonald's and Co., because the proportion of fast food soared from ten to 13 percent. With a total of 18 percent, children and young people now get their food more than twice as often from restaurants and burger joints than from school meals. Even for the youngest, fast food has surpassed school food.

Popkin and his colleagues had re-evaluated the results of four studies in 1977/78, 1989/91, 1994/98 and 2003/06. Information from 29,217 children between the ages of two and 18 was recorded. It is noticeable that the energy intake even decreased slightly from the first to the second examination, but then rose steadily. (APA)