Children Eating More, and More Frequently Outside the Home

Eating location increasingly important factor in diet of American children, according to new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association


Philadelphia, PA, 25 July, 2011
 – As childhood obesity rises and the American diet shifts towards increasing consumption of foods eaten or prepared outside of the home, concerns about the nutritional quality and the total consumption of such foods are also increasing. According to a study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and published in the August 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, eating location and food source significantly impact daily energy intake for children. 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 calorie intake.

Trends in energy intake by eating location have not been examined previously and therefore this study is unique because of its focus on foods consumed away from home as well as foods prepared away from home. The location/source categories showing the greatest increase in percent of kcal/day from 1994 to 2006 were fast food eaten at home and store-bought food eaten away from home. The increase in store-bought foods eaten away from home likely represents an increase in store-prepared foods, and this is a previously unidentified and un-quantified new source of calories prepared away from home.

Researchers also found that the percentage of calories from fast food has increased to surpass intake from schools and has become the largest contributor to foods prepared away from home for all age groups. For foods eaten away from home, the percentage of kcal/day from stores increased to become the largest source of calories eaten away from home. Fast food eaten at home and store-bought food eaten away from home increased significantly.

“Overall, this study highlights the continuing rapid shifts in the sources of food for children in the US—both where it’s eaten and where it’s prepared,” commented Barry M. Popkin, PhD, Professor of Nutrition, UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “These results underscore the need to deepen our understanding of food preparation and consumption patterns, and further pinpoint where research and programmatic activity should focus. The differences in energy intake by eating location revealed in this analysis demonstrate that eating location is an important factor in the diet of American children. Further studies of children’s diet focusing on energy intake and nutritional quality by eating location are warranted, particularly for store-purchased food overall, carry-out or drive-thru fast food, and hot-and-ready vs. home-prepared foods….By determining the importance of both where children eat and where their food is prepared, this study helps elucidate where children are obtaining their calories. Because of the increased energy intake and lower nutritional quality associated with away-from-home prepared foods, such insight can be used to focus future efforts to reduce calorie intake and improve dietary quality for American children.”

The study determined that increased energy intake (+179 kcal/day) by children from 1977-2006 was associated with a major increase in calories eaten away from home (+255 kcal/day). The percentage of calories eaten away from home increased from 23.4% to 33.9% from 1977-2006.

This study was based on a large sample, using data on 29,217 children aged 2 to 18 years from four nationally representative surveys of food intake for the U.S. population: 11,499 participants from the 1977 to 1978 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (NFCS77); 3,122 participants from the 1989 to 1991 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII89); 7,952 participants from the 1994 to 1996 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, combined with children ages 2 to 9 surveyed in 1998 (CSFII94); and 6,644 participants from the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 joint U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES03).

The article is “Trends in energy intake among US children by eating location and food source, 1977-2006" by Jennifer M. Poti and Barry M. Popkin, PhD. It appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 111, Issue 8 (August 2011) published by Elsevier.

In an accompanying video presentation available at  http://adajournal.org/content/mediapodcast co-author Jennifer M. Poti presents an insightful overview of research results.


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Notes for the editors
Full text of this article is available to credentialed journalists upon request. Contact Eileen Leahy at 732-238-3628 oradajmedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. Journalists wishing to set up interviews with the authors should contact Jennifer M. Poti at 804-239-9606 or 919-240-7449 or via email at poti@unc.edu.

A video presentation by co-author Jennifer M. Poti featuring the results of this research (under embargo until July 25)and information specifically for journalists are located at  http://adajournal.org/content/mediapodcast. Excerpts from the presentation may be reproduced by the media; contact Eileen Leahy to obtain permission.

About the Journal of the American Dietetic Association
The official journal of the American Dietetic Association ( www.eatright.org) the Journal of the American Dietetic Association ( www.adajournal.org) is the premier source for the practice and science of food, nutrition and dietetics. The monthly, peer-reviewed journal presents original articles prepared by scholars and practitioners and is the most widely read professional publication in the field. The Journal focuses on advancing professional knowledge across the range of research and practice issues such as: nutritional science, medical nutrition therapy, public health nutrition, food science and biotechnology, food service systems, leadership and management and dietetics education.

The journal has been ranked 17th of 70 journals in Impact Factor in the Nutrition and Dietetics category of the Journal Citation Reports® 2010, published by Thomson Reuters, with an impact factor of 3.244.

About the American Dietetic Association
The American Dietetic Association ( www.eatright.org) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

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Media contacts
Eileen Leahy
Elsevier
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adajmedia@elsevier.com

Ryan O’Malley
American Dietetic Association 
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media@eatright.org