Eating Out Loads Teens with Calories

November 10, 2012 — Think that a fast-food meal or a meal at a restaurant is okay occasionally for your child or teen? Better think again. According to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the increase in calories associated with a meal eaten out versus one at home ranged from 126 for a child at a fast-food place, to 160 for a child at a restaurant, to 267 for a teen at a restaurant, to 307 for a teen at a fast-food place.

What’s worse, the study, which looked at the eating habits of 9,400 children between the ages of 2 and 19, showed it wasn’t just the calories that increased. Meals at fast-food places tacked on an additional 13% sugar, 22% total fat, 25% more saturated fat and 17% more sodium than the recommended daily value for teens. One of the culprits is sweetened beverages, which were consumed at a much higher rate in fast-food places and restaurants than at home. The authors of the study, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, call for higher prices for higher calorie food, restrictions on how close fast food places can be to schools, a limit on the size of sugary drinks and limiting food advertising to children.

You can read a CBS News story on the study here and the study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine itself here.