CDC: Kids Are Eating Fewer Calories

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 21 2013 1:21 PM

Kids Are Eating Fewer Calories, Suggesting Future Drops in Obesity

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U.S. first lady Michelle Obama throws a football during the NFL�s Play 60 campaign to fight childhood obesity at Brock Elementary School September 8, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Some good, if preliminary, news for those trying to reduce childhood obesity: American kids, on average, are eating fewer calories now than they did roughly a decade ago.

That's the major takeaway from a new report from the Centers for Disease Control out today that also looked at adult consumption of fast food (from which, by the way, adults are getting fewer of their calories). The surprising drop, while encouraging, is modest: boys' caloric intake fell 7 percent overall, while girls' energy intake dipped 4 percent. The decrease, researchers think, is likely in part because kids are eating fewer carbohydrates, but more protein.

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While the data may foreshadow a future drop in obesity rates, that hasn't happened just yet. "A harbinger of change is a good phrase," R. Bethene Ervin, a CDC researcher and co-author of the report, told the New York Times. "But to see if it’s really a real trend we would obviously need more years of data."

As for adult fast food consumption, researchers found that 11.3 percent of adults' average daily caloric intake was from fast food in 2010, down from 12.8 percent in 2006. That percentage goes down sharply with age, according to the study. And while income status didn't seem to make a difference when it comes to fast food consumption, the authors note that, perhaps unsurprisingly, obese adults on average eat more fast food.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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