New Study Shows Kids Are Snacking Way Too Much

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In the United States today’s kids snack three times a day and chips, candy and other foods that are unhealthy account for more than 27 percent of children's daily caloric intake, according to a new study. The new research comes at a perfect time since childhood obesity is increasing in the U.S. with over 12 million American children that are overweight.

The spike in snacking added 168 calories per day to kids' diets between 1977 and 2006, according to Carmen Piernas and Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina reported. "To put 168 extra calories per day in perspective: at 3,500 calories per pound, that translates to 17.5 extra pounds a year.”

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote a commentary calling for taxes on sugary drinks and junk food, zoning restrictions on fast-food outlets around schools and bans on advertising unhealthy food to children.

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"Government at national, state, and local levels, spearheaded by public health agencies, must take action," he wrote. "Childhood snacking trends are moving toward three snacks per day, and more than 27 percent of children's daily calories are coming from snacks. The largest increases have been in salty snacks and candy. Desserts and sweetened beverages remain the major sources of calories from snacks," they wrote.

The studies will help fuel President Barack Obama's initiative to fight obesity in childhood, something Obama's wife, first lady Michelle Obama, notes could drive up already soaring U.S. healthcare costs.

Parents, educators and policymakers all hold responsibility for this, Michelle Obama told the School Nutrition Association conference in Washington on Monday. "Our kids didn't do this to themselves," Michelle Obama said. You see kids who are at higher risk of conditions like diabetes, and cancer, and heart disease -- conditions that cost billions of dollars a year to treat," Obama stated. She further stated, Our kids didn't do this to themselves," Obama said. "From fast food, to vending machines packed with chips and candy, to a la carte lines, we tempt our kids with all kinds of unhealthy choices every day."

"Today we think we need to be eating all the time, so we have snack foods available for our kids constantly," says Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina. "Kids are not only snacking too often, but essentially the foods they are consuming represent almost completely unhealthy foods."

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