Too Much Fast
Food Spells "Fat Food"
When a person gains 30 pounds or more over their healthy body weight,
they're considered obese ("oh-BEESE"). That extra weight would
be like picking up a 30-pound pile of rocks, dumping it in your backpack,
and carrying it around with you all the time. Imagine how exhausted
An obese person does that every day. All that extra weight is like
wearing a backpack full of rocks all the time, even to bed at night.
The unhealthy news is this: about 35 out of every 100 children in the
United States are either obese or overweight.
But in the past, fewer kids were obese or fat, says Shanthy Bowman,
in the Agricultural Research Service's Community Nutrition Research
Group, Beltsville, MD. A nutritionist ("noo-TRISH shun-ist")
there, she's an expert on good foods and healthy diets. In a special
study, Bowman looked at the eating habits of more than 6,000 kids in
the United States on 2 days during 1 year. She noticed that on the days
when kids ate fast food, they swallowed 187 more calories. Calories
are units that are used to measure how much energy a particular food
has in it. The calories in a food provide you with energy after you
eat the food. Different nutrients in foods provide different amounts
If you eat more calories than your body uses for energy to power everything
you do, the extra calories are turned into body fat. Each extra pound
of fat equals 3,200 extra calories eaten. Bowman found that on the days
when kids ate fast foods, they also ate more fat, more sugar and more
carbohydrates ("car-bo-HI-drates"). Carbohydrates are foods
that turn into sugars during digestion.
So guess what? The kids who ate fast foods ate more calories, overall.
Kids often ate those high-calorie foods instead of lower-calorie, nutritious
fruits and vegetables. What's really important is that Dr. Bowman found
that many of the fast-food-eating kids were gaining about six extra
pounds in just one year. That means those fast-food eating kids have
a good chance of ending up overweight or obese as the years go by.
During the last 30 years, the number of fast-food restaurants more
than doubled nationwide. They're almost everywhere now. During the same
time, some experts say the amount of fast foods that U.S. kids eat has
gone up five times! That's big news since kids are becoming obese.
Kids who don't eat enough fruits and vegetables are more likely to
not only become obese, but also develop serious health problems that
grown-ups mostly used to get. These include heart disease and diabetes
("die-uh-BEE-tees"). Diabetes develops when there is too much
sugar in the body that doesn't get used for energy. You might think
of it like syrup running through blood veins; it can't get burned into
energy, so it sits around and makes people sick. Adding plenty of fruits
and colorful vegetables to your daily diet may protect you against gaining
too much weight ... and help keep you healthy and energized for all
of the things you like to do.
-- By Rosalie
Marion Bliss, Agricultural
Research Service, Information Staff
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