Kids Eat a lot of Junk Food: One Year’s Total

By: Keith


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! 


10 Responses to “Kids Eat a lot of Junk Food: One Year’s Total”
  1. MileHighdad July 13, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    My son on the other hand, swims, bikes,rollerblades, skateboards and cub scout hikes when not running around the neighborhood or playground and his diet shows it, he’s not overweight just on a constant intake, like feeding a bottomless pit!
    .-= MileHighdad´s last blog ..Cage Match =-.

    • Keith July 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

      MileHigh: I remember being a bottomless pit when I was a kid. Man, those were the days! :-)

  2. PJ Mullen July 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    I’d be thrilled if I could get my son to 1,000 calories a day. He usually has a good breakfast (oatmeal w/ cottage cheese), a solid snack (yogurt) and the kid inhales fruit (blueberries and oranges being his favorite). Lunch is always touch and go, but lately dinner has been better. We try not to eat out and I’m usually making all of our food at home. I don’t buy anything prepackaged, so that cuts a lot of the unnecessary stuff there. I think we do ok, I just wish I could get three squares in him consistently.
    .-= PJ Mullen´s last blog ..Brother and Sister =-.

    • Keith July 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

      PJ: You’re a cooking god so I doubt very much any of these stats apply to your family! I’d eat at your house any day. :-)

  3. Seattledad (Luke, I am Your Father) July 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    Stunning figures Keith. Very eye opening though. I am glad we are mostly feeding Lukas very healthy meals. Thanks mostly to his mom for that.
    .-= Seattledad (Luke, I am Your Father)´s last blog ..Waiting for Star Bucs in Seattle =-.

    • Keith July 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

      Austin: I always wonder how parents can let their kids eat so much crap. It’s tough to imagine because most of the people I know are reasonably food savvy and educated about nutrition (nobody’s perfect, but pretty good at least). But, I know these kids must exist because I see them all over the place. It’s just different social circles I guess. Bloggers, for the most part, are smarter than the average citizen. I think that’s why most of us scratch our heads at figures like these.

  4. Mitzi July 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    I think definitely our kids eat MORE than the Brits since their serving sizes are smaller. A can of soda there is only about 8 ounces, while here they’re 12. Even the candy bars are smaller! The bags of chips are sold in those small lunch pack sizes, here there are 3 servings per ‘small’ bag. That was one major thing I noticed while there. AND most sodas are made with cane sugar NOT HFCS. Not to mention the serving sizes of food there in restaurants.

  5. Joel Gray November 12, 2010 at 12:19 am #

    This is very alarming, an increasing number of obese children means greater number of kids whose health are at risks. Parents should teach their children on how to eat and follow a healthy diet.

  6. Sarah March 26, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    This is a great article! Kids are eating waaaaay to much junk food. Just so everyone here knows there are consumer protection statutes that people are using to sue food manufacturing companies for misleading advertising. If you want to learn more about the legal aspect of fighting the fight for healthy food, check out this article:

    What Are Our Kids Eating?


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