Fat kids through fast food

New study provides safe statistical data for the first time

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It has long been suspected that hamburgers, kebab, pizza or French fries are already thick at an early age. For the first time, scientists have provided reliable statistical data for this connection. The so-called body mass index (BMI) is already higher for six-year-old fast food consumers than for children who do without Burger & Co.

The figures from the US are more than alarming: over 30 percent of all 2- to 19-year-olds have fast food on their menu at least every other day. Germany's offspring is not (yet) so far. But even in Germany already feeds every third male adolescents at least once a week in the Frittenbude or the fast food restaurant around the corner - tendency: rising. For girls, the number is half as high. The data come from the so-called DONALD Study (Dortmund Nutritional and Anthropometric Longitudinally Designed Study), which has been conducted by the Bonn University Research Institute for Child Nutrition (FKE) since 1985. Around 7, 400 nutritional records of children and adolescents aged between one and 18 years were evaluated for the fast food investigation.

BMI tends to be higher

The impact of the high-calorie diet is already measurable: "Boys and girls who consume fast food have a higher body mass index than their peers, " explains Drs. Mathilde Kersting from the FKE. The "BMI" (abbreviation) indicates whether a child is slim, chubby or fat. It is calculated from the body weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height. The result is clear and runs through all age groups: regardless of whether the researchers compared children between the ages of one and six or between the ages of 13 and 18, the BMI was almost always higher in the fast food group, albeit the Difference was not always significant. "But the trend is clear, " emphasizes Dr. med. Kersting.

True calorie bombs

Fast food is typically rich in fat and energy. True calorie bombs are the popular "menus" of burgers and French fries, which are usually washed down with a sugar-sweet soft drink, especially among older teenagers. Fast food contains only a little fiber; However, these usually provide a long-lasting satiety. "Hamburger rolls, fries and lemonade also have a high glycemic index, " emphasizes Mathilde Kersting. "Their consumption leads to a high blood sugar increase, followed by a hypoglycaemia, which triggers renewed hunger."

A consequence: If you eat fast food, it consumes more calories. "Meals are often considered snacks in between meals; a menu can have more than 1, 300 kilocalories, "says the FKE researcher. "550 kilocalories are enough for a main meal in ten to twelve year olds." The fast food consumers in the study consumed up to 15 percent more calories each day, depending on their age, than their peers. In addition, fast food consumers eat altogether healthier: they eat less fruit and vegetables and thus take less vitamins. display

Nevertheless, a ban on fast foods makes Kersting seem unhelpful, especially since it would make burgers, fries and roasts even more appealing. If the parents otherwise pay attention to a reasonable diet, the weekly visit to the fast food restaurant also does no harm. Of the particularly high-energy fast food Men s is in our view, however, not recommended!

(University of Bonn, 21.04.2006 - NPO)