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Foods Prepared Away From Home Tied to Child's Energy Intake

Children's increased energy intake linked to rise in consumption of food prepared away from home

TUESDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- An increase in children's total daily energy intake from 1977 to 2006 correlated with a major shift toward increased energy from foods consumed or prepared away from home, according to a study published online July 25 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Jennifer M. Poti and Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined the trends in daily energy intake for food eaten at or away from home, by source of preparation and eating location and food source, among 29,217 children aged 2 to 18 years. Data were collected from four nationally representative surveys of food intake for the U.S. population.

The investigators found that, from 1977 to 2006, children's energy intake increased (+179 kcal/day), and that this increase was correlated with increased calorie intake eaten away from home (+255 kcal/day). From 1977 to 2006, the percentage of daily energy eaten away from home increased from 23.4 to 33.9. A shift in energy sources was observed from 1994 to 2006, with fast food exceeding intake from schools, and being the largest component of foods prepared away from home. There was a substantial rise in fast food eaten at home and store-bought food eaten away from home. The percentage of daily energy from store-bought food increased to become the largest source of daily energy eaten away from home.

"Foods prepared away from home, including fast food eaten at home and store-prepared food eaten away from home, are fueling the increase in total energy intake," the authors write.

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