Children’s Diets Worsen With Age

by Matthew Kadey, MS, RD on May 16, 2019

Food for Thought

USDA study finds poor eating habits across socioeconomic groups.

Rising obesity rates in American children suggest that their diets leave a lot to be desired. Recently, researchers with the USDA Agricultural Research Service explored young people’s diets using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), which measures how well diets align with federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The study focused on children aged 2–18 in various sociodemographic populations. It found that the diet quality of children in America is low overall, with an HEI mean score of 54.9 (range: 0–100). Notably, scores declined among older age groups, with children aged 6–11 and 12–18 eating worse than 2- to 5-year-olds. Non-Hispanic black and white children scored particularly low on the HEI. The study found no significant differences in total diet scores between boys and girls or among economic classes.

These results suggest that the diets of today’s youth are falling short and that stakeholders, including government health organizations and food manufacturers, need to work harder to get healthy choices into the mouths of our younger generations.

Fitness Journal, Volume 16, Issue 6

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About the Author

Matthew Kadey,  MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD IDEA Author/Presenter

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award-winning journalist, Canada-based dietitian, freelance nutrition writer and recipe developer. He has written for dozens of magazines including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Vegetarian Times and Fitness.