Percentage of Children Eating Fast Food on a Given Day Drops


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JAMA Pediatrics

A lower percentage of children are eating fast food on any given day and calories consumed by children from burger, pizza and chicken fast food restaurants also has dropped, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

Colin D. Rehm, Ph.D., M.P.H., formerly of the University of Washington, Seattle, now of Tufts University, Medford, Mass., and Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, Seattle, analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2010 to examine trends in children’s calorie consumption by fast food restaurant type, according to background information in the research letter.

The percentage of children consuming fast food on a given day dropped from 38.8 percent in 2003-2004 to 32.6 percent in 2009-2010, according to study results.

The authors also found calorie intake from burger, pizza and chicken fast food restaurant decreased, while calories consumed from Mexican and sandwich fast food restaurants remained constant. While the proportion of children eating at burger restaurants remained stable, there was a modest drop seen for chicken restaurants. A decrease in calories consumed at pizza restaurants may have been driven in part by a decrease in the number of consumers because a decline in pizza sales from 2003 to 2010 has been noted by industry sources, according to the study. While 12.2 percent of children obtained food and beverages from pizza restaurants in 2003-2004, that number dropped to 6.4 percent in 2009-2010.

“No fast food market segment experienced a significant increase in energy [calories] during the 8-year study,” the study concludes.

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online March 30, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.38. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor’s Note: An author made a conflict of interest disclosure. This study was funded by a research grant from McDonald’s Corporation to the University of Washington. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, etc.

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