A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association states that, from 2003 to 2010, the percentage of children who consumed fast food on a given day declined significantly.
According to Reuters, the study, conducted by Colin D. Rehm and Andrew Drewnowski, shows that in 2003, nearly 39% of children of the United States consumed fast food on any given day. By 2010, that number had dropped to under 33% — a decline of nearly 20%.
This does not necessarily translate to healthier children.
According to Katherine W. Bauer of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, a decline in fast food consumption is visible in both children and adults. That does not necessarily translate, however, to healthier children.
"From this paper alone I don't feel we're able to say that kids are getting healthier, because we don't know what, if anything, they're substituting for their fast food meals and snacks," Bauer told Reuters. "If children are substituting the calories from fast food for the same number of calories and quality of food from another type of restaurant, then they're no better off."
The study also notes that the trend of menu labeling and calorie counting didn't really begin until 2010, so that is most likely not a source of the current downward trend.
Fast food restaurants, in the meantime, continue to bow to pressure from health advocate groups and provide healthier options for kids. It's somewhat ironic that while fast food chains are doing the morally right thing by cutting calories on kids' meals, they may be simultaneously hurting their own bottom lines.