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Kids Are Eating Less Fast Food, So Why Aren’t They Losing Weight?

April 1, 2015

Kids aren’t so happy about Happy Meals anymore.

New research published in the JAMA Pediatrics on Monday shows that children are eating less fast food overall than they were seven years ago.

According to the study, kids ate fewer burgers, pizza and fried chicken in 2010 than they did in 2003. But even without a steady stream of greasy cheeseburgers, childhood obesity rates are still alarmingly high. In 2010, 18 percent of all American children were obese, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. That points to a whole lot of unhealthy food choices overall.

Children living below the poverty line are at much greater risk of becoming obese than their peers. Low-income communities also generally have more cheap, fast-food options and fewer affordable grocery stores—a particularly unhealthy combination for children.

Think are these restaurants? Check out the calories in kids meals from these four popular fast food joints:

– McDonald’s (cheeseburger, fries, apple slices, and chocolate milk): 545 calories, 16 grams of fat
– Burger King (chicken nuggets, fries, apple slices, and chocolate milk): 660 calories, 25 grams of fat
– Del Taco (bean and cheese burrito, fries, and cinnamon churros): 970 calories, 25 grams of fat
– KFC (Chicken Little sandwich, mac n’ cheese, applesauce, and chocolate milk): 720 calories, 26.5 grams of fat

Though obesity rates aren’t encouraging, the study does point to increased awareness about food choices overall, as one of the study’s coauthors, Colin D. Rehm, told Time.

“We saw a decrease in the number of calories per eating occasion, which suggests that a combination of consumer behavior and changes made by the restaurants can actually impact diet and change the amount of calories people are consuming,” Rehm told the magazine. “That’s promising. It means people are not unchangeable.”

To keep your family away from processed junk food and fast food, seek out healthier options, like kid’s snacks from Thrive Market. If you order ahead of time and stock up, you won’t even have to sacrifice the convenience of the drive-thru window.

Photo credit: looseends via Flickr

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Annalise Mantz

Annalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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