Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Policy Point Wednesday - Half of Kids' Calories are Empty

A sobering report from the National Cancer Institute shows that 40% of calories taken in by children from ages 2-18 are empty calories. This amounts to 798 calories per day (of the day's total of 2027 calories) 433 of which were from solid fat (e.g. trans fats, lard, butterfat etc.) and 365 from added sugars.  These foods should comprise about 8-20% in discretionary calories in a healthy diet.

Half of empty calories came from six foods: sugar-sweetened soda, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, (I assume for the purposes of this study, they refer to HFCS as sugar) dairy desserts (ice cream, pudding,) grain desserts (cookies, doughnuts, granola bars,) pizza, and whole milk.

The abstract goes on to suggest that a reduction in calories or an increase in energy output are critical in reducing the negative health effects of obesity...but that a reduction in nutritious foods such as fat-free milk, fruits, vegetables and whole grains would be imprudent.  The most reasonable place to reduce calories are these sugary, fatty junk foods.

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