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Junk Food, Junk Calories: What Kids Are Eating

Nearly half of kids' energy comes from empty calories.

A new study found that children 2-18 are getting 40% of their daily intake from solid fats and added sugars - calories that put them at risk for obesity and other diet-related illness.

A study published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that children 2-18 are getting 40% of their calories from solid fats and added sugars.

To visualize this, it's the same as your kids eating about 20 packets of sugar and a half a stick of butter every day. That's 365 calories from added sugar and 433 calories from solid fat.

A recent ad created by the NYC health department paints an unpleasant picture of the amount of sugar in a 20-oz soda. Keep in mind - this is less sugar than the average child is consuming each day.

The Main Culprits

The main culprits of empty calories were the following six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk.

The daily calorie allowance for all ages recommended by the American Dietetic Association is 8-20% - far below the actual 40% the study authors found. This means that kids are getting 2-5 times the amount of calories they should from junk food rather than nutritional alternatives.

High levels of sugar and fat consumption have been linked to a risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

The study data came from the years 2003-2006, and was taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey .

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