The number of overweight children has increased dramatically in the United States over the past 30 years for reasons that are not completely understood. The aims of this study were twofold: (1) to examine the association between consumption of fried foods away from home (FFA) and changes in body mass index (BMI); and (2) to consider the association between intake of FFA and diet quality in children and adolescents. A group of 7,745 girls and 6,610 boys, aged 9-14 years, were studied using data from the ongoing Growing Up Today Study.
The key findings were:
- Adolescents who increased their consumption of FFA over a one-year period gained weight over and above the expected increase from normal growth and maturation.
- Adolescents who consumed greater amounts of FFA were more likely to have poor diets. Their diets consisted of less low-fat dairy foods, fruits and vegetables and more red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat and higher glycemic loads.
- The direct association between consumption of FFA and BMI was greatest among the youngest girls.