HealthDay News — From 2009 to 2010, one in five young children and nearly one in four teens ate pizza for a meal or snack, according to research published in Pediatrics. When pizza is consumed, it makes up more than 20% of a patient’s daily intake of calories.
To examine children’s and adolescents’ pizza consumption patterns and its impact on their energy and nutrient intake, Lisa Powell, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from four U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2003 to 2009. Families of almost 13,890 children and teens, aged two to 19 years, reported what their children had eaten in the previous 24 hours.
Calories consumed from pizza declined by one-quarter overall among patients aged two to 11 years. Daily average calories from pizza also declined among teens, but slightly more teens reported eating pizza.
The proportion of younger children eating pizza at dinner and from fast food dropped over the period studied. When they did eat it, however, it bumped up their total average calories eaten that day, especially if it was eaten as a snack or from a fast-food restaurant. On the days children ate pizza, they consumed 84 more calories, three grams more saturated fat, and 134 milligrams more sodium than average, the investigators found. Teens took in an extra 230 calories, five grams saturated fat, and 484 mg sodium on pizza days.
The only time pizza did not increase children’s daily caloric intake were days they ate it from the school cafeteria. That could mean school pizzas are healthier, or it could mean other school lunches are equally high in calories, according to the study authors.
“The adverse dietary effects of pizza consumption found in this study suggest that its consumption should be curbed and its nutrient content improved,” concluded the researchers.