Alexandra Sifferlin adds pizza to the growing list of topics pediatricians should discuss with their patients and parents:

Pizza is a ubiquitous part of the American diet, but a new study finds that it’s an even bigger contributor than we thought—so big, researchers say, that physicians should address pizza intake during doctors’ visits.

To figure out how much pizza kids and adolescents are eating, researchers looked at the diets of children ages 2 to 11 and teens aged 12 to 19 from 2003-2010. They found that pizza makes up about 20% of kids’ daily calories on days when they eat pizza—and despite the insistence of some politicians that pizza should be considered a vegetable for its ample tomato sauce, those calories aren’t coming from an onslaught of veggies.


Karen Bardossi looks at the study just published in Pediatrics and adds:

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.


The problem with calorie-dense “Pizza Night” isn’t so much the pizza itself, but, rather, what we eat (and don’t eat) with our pizza. Soda, with all it’s “empty” calories adds to the total.  Pediatric Alliance doctor Joe Aracri (Greentree Division) puts it all in perspective by telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that having a side order of vegetables with your pizza doesn’t hurt:

Joseph Aracri, chair of Pediatrics at Allegheny Health Network, is a self-professed “pizza lover,” whether it’s a cheese-heavy pie from Fiore’s in Beechview or a refined slice from Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon. But it is something that he counsels patients should be “a sometimes food,” rather than “an always food.”

One issue with pizza, he said, is that children usually eat it by itself without other meal accompaniments like a salad or fruit.

“I think people have to realize pizza is what it is,” he said. “I mean, do you need to put a nutritional label on chocolate cake? It’s high in fat content, high in salt, a lot depends on the toppings. If you do have pizza, make sure you have a side item like carrot sticks and make sure you have water instead of soda.”

As far as his practice in Pittsburgh, Dr. Aracri said pizza should certainly be allowed by parents — but more as a treat than a part of the everyday diet. “I love pizza in all forms,” he said. “But it goes to the overall picture with kids, which is everything in moderation.”