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Explore nutrition tips, kids’ meal plans, kids’ activities, recipes and more from pediatric nutritionist, Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE.

Teenagers & Eating Out

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Teenagers & Eating Out

Teenagers are known for eating out often, whether it is pizza after the football game, birthday parties, movie stand snacks, the food court at the mall, or a quick stop for fast food.

According to a large multi-center study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and published in the January 1, 2005 issue of The Lancet, the more frequently teenagers eat at fast-food restaurants the more likely they are to gain more weight and have a greater incidence of insulin resistance in early middle age. In fact, on a typical day, almost one third of adolescents eat at fast-food restaurants consuming almost 200 extra calories, including nine more grams of fat and more than two extra tablespoons of sugar, than those who don’t eat at fast-food restaurants. This can add up to about 73,000 extra calories equal to about a 20 pound weight gain per year!

The hardest part is often the portion sizes. We live in a world with growing portions. Twenty years ago a McDonald’s meal was complete with a small bag of French fries, a plain burger and a 6 ounce Coke for around 620 calories. Today, the average soda is 20 ounces, the burger has nearly doubled and the fries have tripled to provide around 1420 calories. The problem lies with the way many of the teenagers think. Sad, but true, big food has taught us to believe that 32 ounce drinks and enormous portions are really normal. They eat more because they are simply unaware of the reference portion sizes encouraged for a healthy diet.

Learn more about eating out and portion sizes – How Can Teens Control Portion Sizes of Foods?


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About the Author

Picture of Lauren Dorman, MS, RD, CDE, CPT

Lauren Dorman, MS, RD, CDE, CPT

Lauren is a registered dietitian certified in pediatric and adolescent weight management through the Commission on Dietetic Registration. She earned a Masters Degree in Nutrition from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from The Pennsylvania State University. She provides nutrition counseling and education for children and adolescents with diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. She also teaches an adult diabetes self-management course, and is a nutrition counselor for adult patients with types 1, 2, or gestational diabetes. As founder and owner of Control Type 1, she provides professional diabetes workshops to school nurses. Lauren is a frequently requested nutrition speaker for a variety of meetings, conferences, and annual symposiums.

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