Solid Fat and Added Sugar Intake Among U.S. Children

The Role of Stores, Schools, and Fast Food, 1994-2010

Hands of woman holding hamburger, and fries.

A study of children’s solid fat and added sugar (SoFAS) consumption in schools, stores and fast food restaurants from 1994 to 2010 found that SoFAS consumption declined in each location, but remained above recommended levels, particularly in schools.

The Issue:
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting intake of calories from solid fat and added sugar (SoFAS) to 8-19 percent, but in 2010, U.S. children averaged 33 percent. It is important to understand where children get these excess calories.

This study compares SoFAS content of food that children consumed from stores, schools and fast food restaurants from 1994 to 2010.

Key Findings

  • The percentage of total energy intake from SoFAS from each location decreased significantly from 1994 to 2010, with greater improvements in schools and fast food restaurants than in stores.

  • Percentage added sugar was highest for stores at all times, while percentage solid fat was highest for schools and fast food.

  • Improvements were slowest in milk, pizza and french fries in schools, but schools made the greatest progress on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Conclusion:
Continued efforts to reduce children's SoFAS consumption are necessary. The authors recommend targeting specific food groups and locations, particularly schools.

About the Study:
Data for this study came from five cross-sectional, nationally representative dietary surveys from 1994 to 2010, encompassing 22,103 children ages 2-18. Each survey used two 24-hour dietary recall interviews, coding foods and the location in which they were obtained.

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