Kids Eat a lot of Junk Food: One Year’s Total
I found an article at The Daily Mail that talks about how much junk food a typical British kid eats in one year. You can check it out for yourself, and it’s interesting because they break down the categories of what they consider junk food and how much of it a typical kid consumes per year. Since we Americans are close cousins of the British I’m going to assume these numbers should hold at least reasonably true for Americans as well. I took it upon myself to aggregate the junk food categories in the article, and I arrived at a number of empty calories per day that kids eat. I did not include the milk and whole wheat/fiber product categories because I consider them necessary parts of a child’s diet. The below figures would be significantly worse if I were to add them. But, I don’t know why anybody would consider milk and whole wheat as junk foods. Subtracting those categories, I arrived at 218,605 empty calories per year. Divide that by 365, and the average British kid downs 599 calories per day of food that is, at best, unnecessary.
How Bad is That?
First off, Americans are no better. We’re probably worse. Worse than 600 empty calories per day? That’s 38% of a 1,600 calorie diet. Another way to say it is this: all the nutrients a child needs every day must be squished into a mere 1,000 calories of food. The USDA allocates 132 discretionary calories for a person on a 1600 calorie daily diet. In other words, if you eat only the most nutrient rich foods, you will have 132 extra calories to do with as you please afterwards (half a candy bar, anybody?). 600 minus 132 equals 468 calories. It’s those 468 calories that are either causing childhood obesity or obesity and malnutrition together (kids are either eating all their required nutrients plus those 468 calories or eating fewer nutrient rich foods in order to stay under 1600 calories). 468 calories per day is roughly 1 lb of gained fat per week. Does anybody still question why we and our kids are fat? Side note: a 2,000 calorie diet rich in nutrients can have 267 discretionary calories (that’s a Snicker’s bar a day if you don’t waste a single calorie throughout the rest of the day). Side note: USAToday reports that 10% of the calories in an American diet come from soda!