Bleak state of kids nutrition: 1 in 3 eat junk food daily, 80% of their drinks are sweetened, and saturated fat plagues every meal, Harvard study warns

'No progress is being made in improving children's nutrition despite the burgeoning obesity epidemic, a landmark study has revealed. Kids' menus in fast food joints are laden with as many calories, as much saturated fat and as much sodium as they were five years ago.
This is despite a 2011 pledge among chain restaurants in the United States to improve the nutritional value of children's menu options.

Childhood obesity rates are rapidly rising. In the US, 18 percent of children between ages six and 11 are obese, as are 21 percent of adolescents between ages 12 and 19.
And the study - the first to look at national trends in the nutrient content of kids' menus since 2011 - warns failure to get menus under control could have devastating repercussions for the next generation.

Since 2015, more than 150 chain restaurants joined the Kids LiveWell program with a pledge to increase the number of nutritious menu items available to children.
Several of these chains have announced that they will remove soda as the default choice on children's menus, while others have added healthy side options such as yogurt and fruit to kids' menus and meals.

While some restaurants have replaced soda, many of the new selections are still sugar-sweetened and contain just as much sugar.
In fact, results showed that sugar-sweetened beverages still make up 80 percent of children's beverage options, despite voluntary pledges to reduce their prevalence.
Senior author Dr Christina Roberto, an assistant professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, told Daily Mail Online: 'It's great that restaurants like McDonald's have taken soda off the kids menu, but what good does it do if the replacements have just as much sugar as the soda does?
Researchers used data collected by the Department of Health to track trends in the nutrient content of beverages, entrees, side dishes, and desserts offered on children's menus in 45 of the nation's top 100 restaurant chains.

Out of the sample, 15 restaurants were Kids LiveWell participants.
The authors, led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, say that while these steps have the potential to make a difference, the results of the study show more meaningful changes are needed.
More than one in three children and adolescents consumed fast food every day, according to the study.

Dr Roberto says this is part of a changing mindset from fast food restaurants being an occasional splurge to being part of a daily routine.
'I think it's disconcerting because it's good to have these kinds of programs that promote health, but these restaurants need to be held accountable,' she said.
'We need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to fix this.
'Programs like Kids LiveWell are a good start but the reality is more needs to be done if we're going to be serious about tackling obesity.'  

The CDC and various health organizations have warned that US obesity rates will only climb if Americans stick to their current eating and exercise habits.
A report released in 2012 by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation projected that half of US adults will be obese by 2030.
The report predicted that in every state, the rate will reach at least 44 percent by 2030. In 13 states, that number would exceed 60 percent.

Obesity raises the risk of numerous diseases from type 2 diabetes to endometrial cancer, meaning more sick people and higher medical costs in the future, according to the report.
Currently, the estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are an astonishing $190.2 billion or nearly 21 percent of annual medical spending in the US.
Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs.
The report estimated that rising obesity figures will balloon that figured to $210 billion'.

Source: MailOnline