Children's Food Full of Empty Calories

BETHESDA, Md., Oct. 1 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say the flow of empty calories into children’s food needs to be reduced.

Researchers Jill Reedy and Susan Krebs-Smith of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., examined the diets of children and teens ages 2-18 and found the main sources of calories were grain desserts, pizza and soda.

The researchers also find sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and fruit drinks provided almost 10 percent of total calories consumed. Nearly 40 percent of total calories consumed were in the form of empty calories from solid fat and from added sugars.

Half of empty calories came from six foods — soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk.

“This paper identifies the major sources of overall energy and empty calories, providing context for dietary guidance that could specifically focus on limiting calories from these sources and for changes in the food environment,” the researchers say in a statement. “Product reformulation alone is not sufficient.”

The article is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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