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Fried food and fatter kids

BOSTON New research shows that adolescents who eat large amounts of fried food away from home are heavier and more likely to have a poor-quality diet. Among 14,355 children surveyed over three years, researchers from the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care) found that 9 to 14 year olds who increased their consumption of fried food away from home over the course of a year gained weight above the normal rate. This research was conducted at the DACP Center for Child Health Care Studies and is reported in this month's Pediatrics journal.

"Doctors should encourage teens to limit their intake of food prepared away from home and to eat family dinners together, the benefits of which appear to include improved diet quality," said lead author Elsie Taveras, instructor in ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC). She added that home dinners have been found to reduce high-risk adolescent behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use. Taveras is also director of the One Step Ahead program at Children's Hospital Boston, which teaches families how to make healthy food choices.

"In today's fast food environment, it's a challenge for teenagers and their families to eat what's nutritious and healthful. When you are at your favorite restaurant, stay away from the fried foods and instead choose modest portions of grilled chicken or fish, a salad, or some fruit," said Matthew Gillman, senior author on the paper and associate professor of ambulatory care and prevention at HMS and HPHC.

Taveras and colleagues surveyed 14,355 children between 9 and 14 years old, and recorded their height, weight, physical activity, and frequency of consumption of fried food away from home. She found that over time, when the children increased the amount of fried foods they ate away from home, their body mass index (BMI) also increased. In the sur
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Contact: Leah Gourley
public_affairs@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0442
Harvard Medical School
3-Oct-2005


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