Poor food choices are leading to an explosion in obesity among the nation's adolescents, according to a new study conducted by the American Dietetic Association.
The results, which were compiled by examining responses to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, showed that 40 percent of the total calories consumed by young people are empty calories in foods like sugar-sweetened drinks, deserts, pizza and whole milk.
Researchers said that more education is needed to warn children of the dangers associated with eating food that is high in fat and calories and low in vitamins and other important minerals. Additionally, they called for changes in the nutritional value of food offered at schools and other public places.
"The epidemic of obesity among children and adolescents is now widely regarded as one of the most important public health problems in the U.S.," Jill Reedy and Susan M. Krebs-Smith said in their report. "Most experts agree that the solution will involve changes in both diet and physical activity, in order to affect energy balance.
Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and juice, were identified as one of largest problems, as 10 percent children's total calories come from these sources.