While fast food is a leading cause in child obesity in the U.S., medical experts claim that parents allowing their kids to indulge in money-saving combo meals are putting the health of their children at high risk.
A lot of families, in order to save money, opt for getting special-offer deals to feed their children. They are able to get food as well as a drink for a very affordable price. However, doctors warn that the very high sugar content found in such burgers and sodas will all add up to a hefty medical bill down the line.
According to a recent study, a total of 179 more calories per meals are consumed by kids who eat combo deals that come with a soda, flavored milk or sweetened tea compared to kids who happen to eat food cooked at home.
Professor Brian Elbel, the lead author of the current study, from New York University said that it should be acknowledged by the national health guidelines that high-calorie sodas should not be given with high-calorie meals. The results from his research show that buying a drink separately happened to be comparatively healthier. Separately bought drinks, perhaps due their portion size, had 82 less calories than the ones that accompanied combo meals. The results also showed that 24% of the parents were more likely to buy a drink high in sugar content for their kids.
Professor Elbel added that the research put forth a notion that getting rid of sugary drinks that accompany combo meal deals could help to reduce the high calorie intake in kids and also play a role in slowing down the onset of obesity. The current research was published in the American Journal of Public Health.
For the purpose of this research a total of 483 girls and boys were surveyed. The ages of the kids were between one and eighteen. All of the participants were those who either ate or took food from Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway or Wendy’s in New York and New Jersey between January of 2013 and June of 2014.
The meal receipts were used in order to interview the parents regarding the purchases they made. The calculations showed that sugary drinks played a role in making the young generation to exceed their calorie limits. The maximum limit recommended by the US national dietary guidelines happens to be between 120 to 180 calories. The results showed that approximately 17% of the U.S. citizens who were under the age of 19 have been estimated to be obese. The high intake of calories from consuming sugar has been held responsible for such an occurrence.
According to the researchers, this analysis is the first of its kind that happens to access the factors that might be promoting the consumption of high sugar content drinks being offered at fast food restaurants. About 42% of the participants consumed a combo meal. However, 72% of such purchases were made for kids. Approximately 49% of the consumed beverages were sodas, 38% were juice, flavored mild was 5%, regular milk made up 2% while 1% was water. The rest of the 5% was lemonade, hot chocolate and sweetened teas.
Compared to people who ate at the restaurants, the ones who bought their meals as ‘take away’ consumed an average of 14 calories less through their drinks. A 22% increase was seen in teenagers compared to kids regarding who consumed more sugary drinks. Females were 31% less likely than males to buy drinks with high sugar content.
Numerous cities in the U.S. are trying to restrict the use of supersized soft drunks by the general public by imposing a higher sales tax. Though such a sales tax couldn’t pass in New York City back in 2014, it was able to be introduced later in California and Berkeley. It was passed in Philadelphia this year.
While the current research doesn’t provide a cause and effect relation with regards to being obese and consuming fast food combo meals, the researchers hope that policy makers keep these results in mind in order to decrease the consumption of beverages that are high in sugar content.