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Fast food lunches for poor

Thursday June 21st, 2012

Britain's poorest children enjoy a diet high in fast food, researchers warn today.

As may as ten per cent of children in the poorest neighbourhoods visit a fast food outlet daily, researchers found.

And 50 per cent would expect to eat fast food at least twice a week.

The findings come from a study of children aged between 11 and 14 in the Tower Hamlets area of London.

The children attended schools which allowed them to leave the premises at lunch-time.

So, although 61 per cent were entitled to free school meals, many said they skipped these to head for a fast food outlet for lunch. About 30 per cent of the children were overweight or obese.

The study, reported in BMJ Open, involved some 193 children of which nearly half were of Asian background. Researchers found that girls mostly sought to limit their consumption by buying only chips.

Researcher Dr Mei-Yen Chan, a food specialist at Newcastle University, UK, writes: "These children are exposed to an environment that is likely to cause obesity, and it is not surprising that in this situation, many of these children are already overweight or obese, and will likely become obese as adults.

"Clearly, actions need to be taken to either limit the ability of these children to access fast food outlets or to change the foods they purchased at these outlets (e.g. less calorie dense, with more fruit and vegetables, with less fat and salt)."

BMJ Open June 21 2012; doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000402

Tags: Child Health | Diet & Food | UK News

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