Kids eating too much pizza, study says

January 20, 2015

Children and adolescents are getting too many calories and not enough nutrients from pizza, according to a new study of the impact of children’s pizza consumption on excess energy intake and dietary quality.

Children and adolescents are getting too many calories and not enough nutrients from pizza, according to a new study of the impact of children’s pizza consumption on excess energy intake and dietary quality.

Using 24-hour dietary recall data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010, researchers examined changes in pizza consumption patterns for children aged 2 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years. They also estimated how consuming pizza affected total energy intake (TEI) as well as sugar, saturated fat, and sodium intake.

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Overall energy intake from pizza decreased 25% among children (from 110 to 83 kcal) from the 2003-2004 to the 2009-2010 NHANES. Caloric intake from pizza among adolescents decreased from 801 to 624 kcal, but overall pizza intake didn’t change because of a slightly increased consumption prevalence. Pizza intake from fast food and at dinnertime decreased for both children and adolescents.

Researchers found a significant link between pizza consumption and increased net daily TEI for both children (84 kcal) and adolescents (230 kcal). Pizza consumption was also associated with greater saturated fat intake (3 g for children, 5 g for adolescents) and sodium intake (134 mg for children, 484 mg for adolescents) but not sugar intake. Pizza eaten as a snack from fast-food restaurants had the most adverse effect on TEI.

Pizza is the second highest daily energy source, after grain desserts, for children aged 2 to 18 years, and children and adolescents aged 6 to 11 years and 12 to 19 years eat pizza more often than any other age groups.

In light of pizza’s adverse dietary impact on youth, measures are needed to limit its consumption and improve its nutritional content, the researchers conclude. 

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