An “empty calorie” comes from food that provides calories, but very little nutrition.  A new study from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and published in the online journal Pediatric Obesity shows a decline in added sugars and solid fats in children’s diets between 1994 and 2010 (from 39% to 33%).

That’s the good news.  Since 2010, things have leveled off.  According to, we still have a long way to go:

And despite prior declines, Dr. Slining and team found that the average intake of solid fats and added sugars by children and adolescents in 2010 was still far higher than the amounts recommended by the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Among the participants of this study, solid fats and added sugars accounted for an average of 33 percent of total energy intake in 2010. The recommended level is 5 to 15 percent.


The culprits should not surprise anyone who has been paying attention to the obesity epidemic in America:

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the top sources for added sugar include soft drinks, energy drinks, cookies and pastries and that some of the top sources for solid fats are butter, beef fat and shortening.

According to the results of this study, “The main sources of SoFAS (solid fats and added sugars) intakes over the 16-year period were SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages), grain-based desserts, candy, ready-to-eat cereals, dairy-based desserts, milk, pizza, cheese, processed meats and fried potatoes.”


Regardless of body mass index (BMI), we should ALL be trying to limit added sugars (especially in beverages and processed foods) and saturated fats (especially in processed foods) in our diets.  Eating real food (there is only one ingredient in a string bean, or an apple, or a lean steak) is the first, necessary step to a healthier human.

More posts about childhood obesity on The PediaBlog here.


(Image: winnond/