Essay: Eating Patterns among American Youth
There are some of the notable trends learned from studies of USDA’s Nationwide Food Consumption Survey and the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. These studies demonstrate changes in eating patterns among American youth that illustrate the complexity that exists relating food intake to the increased prevalence of obesity. The studies reveal that:
- Children are getting more of their food away from home. Energy intake from away-from-home food sources increased from 20 to 32 percent from 1977-1978 to 1994-1996.
- Daily total energy intake did not significantly increase for children 6-11, but did increase for adolescent girls and boys (ages 12-19 years) by 113 and 243 kilocalories, respectively (Enns et al, 25-27)
- Daily total energy intake that children derived from energy dense (high calorie) snacks increased by approximately 121 kilocalories between 1977 and 1996 There has been a decline in breakfast consumption – especially for children of working mothers.
- Portion sizes increased between 1977 and 1996. Average portion sizes increased for salty snacks from 1.0 oz to 1.6 oz and for soft drinks from 12.2 oz to 19.9 oz (Nielsen & Popkin, 450-453)