Children snacking ‘more than ever’

Posted by Janice Wong on 4th March 2010

Child obesity in the US may not have hit a plateau, experts have claimed, with kids now snacking three times a day. According to a study published in the US journal Health Affairs, some 16.4% of kids aged 10-17 were obese in 2007, the study claimed – up from 14.8% in 2003 and equating to almost 10.6m obese children.

Two of the researchers behind the study claimed US children were “snacking more than ever” on junk foods.

Carmen Piernas of the the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, and Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the same university, said US children are consuming over 27% of their “daily caloric intake” through “calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods” snacks.

The authors of the Health Affairs study claimed that, among some sections of the US population, the numbers of obese children could still be on the rise.

“Our findings suggest that the obesity epidemic among children may not yet have reached its plateau for some groups of children,” the authors claimed. They added that those most likely to be overweight or obese were among the poorest, publicly insured, black and Hispanic children.

The health officials and academics behind the study called on the Obama administration and the US Congress to make fighting childhood obesity “a signature domestic initiative”.

Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama launched ‘Let’s Move’, a drive designed to cut obesity levels among children in the country.

The Health Affairs study also called on Congress to bring in new taxes to “discourage [the] consumption of high-calorie foods and beverages” and force restaurants by law to list calories on menus.

“More experts no longer see obesity as a matter determined solely by personal responsibility; they believe that there needs to be collective responsibility for taking on the problem along the lines of the movement to fight smoking and tobacco,” the researchers said.

just-food is the world’s leading portal for the global pre-packaged food and retail industries. Its daily mix of breaking news, views, analysis and research serves over 100,000 food executives each month.