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Fast food ads to blame for childhood obesity epidemic

Tuesday, 09 Nov 2010

Despite all the recent public attention given to the childhood obesity epidemic, American children still see lots of ads for unhealthy fast-food options.

A new report is the most comprehensive study ever into fast food nutrition and marketing. It shows that out of more than 3,000 possible kids’ meal combinations at the major chains, only 12 meet nutritional guidelines for pre-preschoolers.

A team of researchers report that preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads today than in 2003 and older children see 34% more fast food ads. The average preschooler sees about three ads a day and teenagers see about five per day.

The report, available at, finds the industry spent more than $4.2 billion in 2009 on marketing and advertising on television, the Internet, social media sites and mobile applications.

Subway and Burger King had the ten healthiest kids meal selections, with Subway’s Veggie Delite Sandwich on Wheat Bread with apple slices and apple juice coming in at a scant 285 calories. McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Taco Bell, KFC, Sonic, and, yes, Burger King as well, all offered the worst kids meals, each having an option at over 750 calories. The worst kids meal offering, the study found, is a Dairy Queen Original Cheeseburger with French Fries, Mountain Dew and a Chocolate Dilly Bar, all of which comes in at a whopping 973 calories.

Overweight and obesity in children has reached epidemic levels in America. The number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled since 1980 and the prevalence among younger children has more than doubled. Obesity has reached such epidemic proportions that world health officials have decided they need to take a more aggressive approach if they are to head off a global explosion of fat-related diseases.

Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. # Obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.childhood-obesity-epidemic-fast-food

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