Kids now get 27 percent of their calories from junk food. Make sure they eat real meals to avoid all-day snacking.
Kids don’t need to nibble on food all day long — in fact, they shouldn’t. According to a study published in the journal Health Affairs, children in the U.S. now get 27 percent of their daily calories from junk food. The reason, it seems, is because many are snacking on sugary, high-calorie beverages and treats throughout the day, in addition to their regular meals. Kids need structured meals that fill them up, so they won’t be constantly grazing throughout the day, explains adolescent nutritionist Alicia Dixon Docter, MS, RD, of Seattle Children’s Hospital. “When people eat constantly, insulin levels remain elevated, which can lead to an increase of fat storage on the body,” says Docter. Waiting every three hours to eat allows blood sugar levels to return to normal. Kids who never have the chance to experience hunger or fullness are also more likely to overeat.