Study: It's Not McDonald's Fault Our Kids Are Fat

It's the fatty, sugary foods they're eating the rest of the time that's to blame: study
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2014 8:59 AM CST
Study: It's Not McDonald's Fault Out Kids Are Fat
Shown is a Happy Meal at a McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Fast food isn't making your kids fat—not really. What's truly behind the trend of childhood obesity are the sodas, frozen pizzas, and cookies consumed at home, school, and whenever kids aren't in a McDonald's or Burger King booth—a "Western diet" high in saturated fats and added sugars, according to a new study. Researchers looked at the eating habits of 4,466 American kids, aged 2 to 18, and grouped them based on what they ate when they weren't eating fast food. What they found: Those with the highest rates of being overweight or obese ate a Western diet—even if they ate no fast food; on the flip side, those who were high fast-food consumers but otherwise ate a "prudent" diet were much less likely to be overweight or obese, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The more often a child ate at fast food spots, however, the more likely he or she was to follow a similar diet at home. But "just because children who eat more fast food are the most likely to become obese does not prove that calories from fast foods bear the brunt of the blame," one author says, per Red Orbit. In fact, health campaigns targeting fast-food restaurants may be "overestimated" in that they are "not sufficient to reduce child obesity if the remainder of the diet is not addressed." (More fast food stories.)

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