*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Science Codex.
A new study of children and teens found that more than 25% of the calories they consume were considered empty – those from added sugars and solid fats. The top sources of these empty calories were soft drinks, fruit drinks, cookies and brownies, pizza, and ice cream.
“Our findings suggest a need for continued research into what children and adolescents are eating,” said Edwina Wambogo, Ph.D., who was a recent postdoctoral Cancer Research Training Award Fellow with the National Cancer Institute.
Wambogo, the primary investigator for the study, will present the research as part of NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).
The researchers used data from 2007-2008 through the 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyze diet trends for children and adolescents ages 2 to 18 years old.
The analysis revealed that for all age groups studied more than 25% of their caloric intake came from empty calories, with the percentage of empty calories increasing with age. The top food sources for these calories remained almost the same from 2007-2008 to 2015-2016. However, with increasing age, the sources shifted from beverages such as fruit drinks and flavored milk to foods such as pizza and sweet bakery products. In terms of drinks, older children and teens also tended to consume more calories from soft drinks rather than fruits drinks, flavored milk, and whole milk.