A group of New Zealand scientists was surprised and a bit embarrassed about their findings on how fast food affects the body weight of teens and children.
Fast Food Makes Fat, Innit?
What the guys and gals from New Zealand’s universities in Auckland and Otaga wanted to know was: how does fast food consumption affect the body weight of children and teenagers?
To find out they took the data of about 200,000 adolescents and close to 73,000 children, presenting 36 and 17 countries respectively.
The first group was aged 13 to 14 and had to answer a questionnaire about how often they had eaten fast food in the last year. The children were 6 to 7 years old and, to not have to rely on answers consisting of beautiful pictures done with crayons, their parents were asked to answer for them.
More Fast Food, Lower BMI
For the children group the Kiwis got what they, I assume, expected: first graders who often ate fast food had a BMI (body mass index) 0.15 to 0.22 points higher than kids who hardly ever saw burgers, pizza and related wonders.
That already is a miniscule difference and surely put some frowns on researcher foreheads.
But it came worse: teens who frequently ate fast food had a BMI lower by 0.14 to 0.29 points than the junk food naysayers (PDF).
By Popular Demand
The funny thing is how the researchers interpret these results. They, shall we say, went through great pains to be in line with popular opinion.
Where their numbers reflect public perception of fast food, they tell us to take them at face value:
[This study] provides evidence that among children from many different nations, fast-food consumption may contribute to weight gain.
But about the teens who had a better BMI despite eating loads of junk food they remind us:
The reverse association observed in adolescents should be interpreted with caution, as the results may be affected by bias, particularly underreporting of fast-food consumption and reverse causation.
True, when you ask people how much they ate, self-reported data is just a tad more reliable than horoscopes. But that also goes for your other result, my dears.
It’s Not What!
I have a different interpretation of their findings, anyway: it’s not what you eat that makes you fat, it’s how much you eat.
Picture courtesy of “moyerphotos“.