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Children in the U.S. Are Eating Fewer Calories, But Fewer Is Still Too Many

Heath experts warn that the decline in calorie intake was pretty incremental, meaning we’re not out of the obesity epidemic woods quite yet

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In the U.S., children consumed fewer calories in 2010 than they did a decade ago. But before anyone runs out to get a celebratory muffin, heath experts warn that the decline was pretty incremental, meaning we haven’t beat the obesity epidemic quite yet. The New York Times reports:

For boys, calorie consumption declined by about 7 percent to 2,100 calories a day over the period of the analysis, from 1999 through 2010. For girls, it dropped by 4 percent to 1,755 calories a day.

National obesity rates for children have been flat in recent years, but some cities have reported modest declines. The new evidence of a lower calorie intake for children may also foreshadow a broader national shift, experts said.

The study revealed that a drop in carbohydrate and sugar intake likely explained the calorie decrease. Calories from fat remained stable, while those from protein rose. 

The calorie decline was most pronounced among boys ages 2 to 11, and among teenage girls.

Carbohydrate consumption declined among white and black boys, but not among Hispanic boys. Among girls, whites were the only group that consumed fewer calories from carbohydrates.

According to Yahoo News, the Centers for Disease Control researchers behind the study found their results surprising given that childhood obesity levels in the country as a whole have not declined.

The Chicago Tribune points out that this may be because children get many of their calories from saturated fat, found in butter, coconut oil, animal fat, dark chocolate, cheese, whipped cream and processed meat.

Recommended U.S. guidelines suggest that no more than 10 percent of one’s daily calories should come from such fat, but American youth took in between 11 percent and 12 percent from 2009 to 2010, data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics showed.

America leads the world in calorie consumption and portion sizes: seventeen percent of children—12.5 million—in the U.S. are obese, and another third are overweight.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Scientists Take Fat Out of Chocolate, Replace it with Fruit 
Antibiotics May Be Making You Fat 

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