CDC: Children and teens are eating more fast food

CDC: Children and teens are eating more fast food
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A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that children and teenagers are eating more fast food than in previous years.

The report showed that young people received 13.8 percent of their daily calories from fast food between 2015 and 2018, up from 12.4 percent from 2011 to 2012.

The data noted adolescents between the ages of 12 to 19 consumed a higher percentage of fast food calories compared to children ages 2 to 11.

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The study conducted by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics also showed that Black and Hispanic youths consumed more calories from fast food than the non-Hispanic white demographic, with a third of Black and Hispanic youths consuming fast food on any given day.

The study also showed the proportion of caloric intake from fast food increased by age, with children ages 2-11 receiving 11.5 percent of their daily calories from fast food compared to those ages 12-19 who received 18 percent.

Though the report only shows data up to 2018, Eliana Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, told NBC News the coronavirus pandemic likely exacerbated the reliance on fast food this year.

"These are not surprising findings when you think about how strapped families are these days for both time and money, and how fast food can be an easy option for stressed families," said Perrin.

Consuming too much fast food is harmful to children's diets due to the high amount of calories combined with a lack of core nutrients, which can later result in cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

According to the CDC, obesity affects nearly 18.4 percent of U.S. children ages 6 to 11, and 20.9 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19.

Frances Fleming-Milici, director of marketing initiatives at the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said one of the main problems fueling the over-consumption of fast food is targeted advertising towards youths.

"We saw a big increase in ad exposure for preschoolers and children for particular fast-food restaurants," she told NBC, citing a report examining the number of television ads viewed from 2007 to 2016.