Fast Food Combo Packs Lead Kids to Drink Sugary Drinks
A new survey of children’s and teenagers’ eating habits at fast-food restaurants suggests that consumption levels of sugary drinks are closely tied to their automatic inclusion in “combo meal” packages.
According to the NYU Langone Medical Center researchers who led the survey, kids who ate at any of five major fast-food chains consumed 179 more calories on average when their meal deals included soda, sweetened tea or juice, or flavored milks, compared to those who drank non-sweetened beverages or nothing with their food.
82 More Calories
In a summary of the results, published in the American Journal of Public Health online Oct. 7, researchers also found that purchasing drinks as part of bundled meals was tied to the consumption on average of 82 more drink calories than when the drinks were purchased separately. And, they reported, parents who bought combo meals were 24 percent more likely than those who did not to buy a high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverage than a non-sweetened drink or no beverage.
“Our study strongly suggests that uncoupling sugary drinks from combo meal deals might reduce high-calorie beverage consumption and help to curb childhood obesity rates fueled by these kinds of liquid calories,” says study senior investigator Brian Elbel, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone, and at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
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