How pizza is derailing the nutrition of children in the US

Look for someone who doesn’t enjoy a piece of pizza and you’ll be hard pressed. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates 1 in 8 Americans consume pizza on a given day, and 1 in 4 males between the ages of 16 and 19 consume pizza on a given day. Needless to say, it’s one of the most highly-consumed foods in the country. SEE ALSO: Super Bowl pizza with Italian sausage recipe As decision-making adults, pizza consumption can be restricted. If someone is trying to eat healthy, they may still have pizza, but they won’t have it every day or even every week, and if they do, they can cut back on calories elsewhere. Children, however, don’t usually have the knowledge or concern to regulate their pizza intake, and this means pizza can single-handedly sabotage a child’s healthy eating. New research from Lisa Powell, associate director of the Health Policy Center at the Institute of Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her team investigated the impact of pizza on children in the U.S.. The findings indicated that approximately 20 percent of children were eating pizza on a given day, taking in extra calories and high levels of additional sodium. Even though the extra calories associated with pizza dropped between 2003 and 2010, suggesting pizza is being made slightly healthier, children ages 2-11 actually started consuming more pizza during that time frame. These children took in an additional 84 calories, 3 grams of saturated fat, and 134 milligrams of sodium than they did on no-pizza days. Adolescents fared even worse in the findings, taking in an extra 230 calories, 5 grams of saturated fat and 484 milligrams of sodium. Overall, pizza made up 22 percent of total caloric intake among children and 26 percent of total caloric intake in adolescents. “Children and adolescents do not adequately compensate by eating less of other foods on days when they eat pizza,” said Powell in a press release. She explained a big issue with pizza is that it is frequently eaten as a snack, not just as an entree. When consumed in this manner, in addition to regular meals, pizza added an additional 202 calories for children, and adolescents an extra 365 calories compared to no-pizza snack days. For children, pizza consumption was generally the same despite race/ethnicity; however, researchers pointed out non-Hispanic black children had significantly higher pizza consumption compared to Hispanic children. The USDA reports among adults, non-Hispanic whites are more likely to consume pizza compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics. SEE ALSO: Pizza family meal promotion for Latinos misses the mark Because when pizza is consumed, it increases the total daily calories that children and adolescents take in, it could be an important contributor to the obesity epidemic,” says study co-author Dr. William Dietz. “Moderating pizza consumption should become another goal in our efforts to reduce obesity in U.S. youth.” Researchers indicate that while restricting pizza consumption is important it is unlikely pizza will ever be eliminated from the diet of U.S. residents. Pizza is a convenience food and an inexpensive way to feed a large group of people. Because of this, experts suggest finding ways to make pizza healthier, not only when made at home, but when served in restaurants and schools.The post How pizza is derailing the nutrition of children in the US appeared first on Voxxi.

Kids love pizza, but pizza doesn’t love kids. (Shutterstock)

Look for someone who doesn’t enjoy a piece of pizza and you’ll be hard pressed.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates 1 in 8 Americans consume pizza on a given day, and 1 in 4 males between the ages of 16 and 19 consume pizza on a given day. Needless to say, it’s one of the most highly-consumed foods in the country.

SEE ALSO: Super Bowl pizza with Italian sausage recipe

As decision-making adults, pizza consumption can be restricted.

If someone is trying to eat healthy, they may still have pizza, but they won’t have it every day or even every week, and if they do, they can cut back on calories elsewhere. Children, however, don’t usually have the knowledge or concern to regulate their pizza intake, and this means pizza can single-handedly sabotage a child’s healthy eating.

New research from Lisa Powell, associate director of the Health Policy Center at the Institute of Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and her team investigated the impact of pizza on children in the U.S..

The findings indicated that approximately 20 percent of children were eating pizza on a given day, taking in extra calories and high levels of additional sodium.

Even though the extra calories associated with pizza dropped between 2003 and 2010, suggesting pizza is being made slightly healthier, children ages 2-11 actually started consuming more pizza during that time frame.

These children took in an additional 84 calories, 3 grams of saturated fat, and 134 milligrams of sodium than they did on no-pizza days. Adolescents fared even worse in the findings, taking in an extra 230 calories, 5 grams of saturated fat and 484 milligrams of sodium.

Overall, pizza made up 22 percent of total caloric intake among children and 26 percent of total caloric intake in adolescents.

“Children and adolescents do not adequately compensate by eating less of other foods on days when they eat pizza,” said Powell in a press release.

She explained a big issue with pizza is that it is frequently eaten as a snack, not just as an entree. When consumed in this manner, in addition to regular meals, pizza added an additional 202 calories for children, and adolescents an extra 365 calories compared to no-pizza snack days.

Pizza can be healthy
While cutting back on pizza consumption will help, experts say it is important to make pizza healthier, too. (Shutterstock)

For children, pizza consumption was generally the same despite race/ethnicity; however, researchers pointed out non-Hispanic black children had significantly higher pizza consumption compared to Hispanic children.

The USDA reports among adults, non-Hispanic whites are more likely to consume pizza compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics.

SEE ALSO: Pizza family meal promotion for Latinos misses the mark

Because when pizza is consumed, it increases the total daily calories that children and adolescents take in, it could be an important contributor to the obesity epidemic,” says study co-author Dr. William Dietz. “Moderating pizza consumption should become another goal in our efforts to reduce obesity in U.S. youth.”

Researchers indicate that while restricting pizza consumption is important it is unlikely pizza will ever be eliminated from the diet of U.S. residents. Pizza is a convenience food and an inexpensive way to feed a large group of people. Because of this, experts suggest finding ways to make pizza healthier, not only when made at home, but when served in restaurants and schools.

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The post How pizza is derailing the nutrition of children in the US appeared first on Voxxi.