Are child eating patterns being transformed globally?

Obes Res. 2005 Jul;13(7):1281-99. doi: 10.1038/oby.2005.153.


Objective: To examine the extent to which child dietary patterns and trends are changing globally.

Research methods and procedures: Diets of children 2 to 19 years of age were studied with nationally representative data from Russia and the United States, nationwide data from China, and regional data from metropolitan Cebu, Philippines. Twenty-four-hour dietary recalls were examined at several points in time to examine trends in calories consumed away from home, snacking behavior, and soft drink and modern fast food consumption. Urban-rural trends were compared.

Results: U.S. and Cebu youth consume more than one-third of their daily calories and a higher proportion of snack calories from foods prepared away from home. In contrast, away from home food consumption is minimal in Chinese and Russian children. U.S. and Cebu youth consume about one-fifth of their total daily energy from snacks, but snacks provide a much lower proportion of energy in Russia ( approximately 16%) and China (where snacks provide only approximately 1% of energy). Fast food plays a much more dominant role in the American diet ( approximately 20% of energy vs. 2% to 7% in the other countries), but as yet does not contribute substantially to children's diets in the other countries. Urban-rural differences were found to be important, but narrowing over time, for China and Cebu, whereas they are widening for Russia.

Discussion: This research suggests that globalization of the fast food and other modern food sectors is beginning to affect child eating patterns in several countries undergoing nutrition transition. However, the contribution of fast food and soft drinks to the diet of children remains relatively small in China, Russia, and Cebu, Philippines, relative to the United States.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • China
  • Diet / trends*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Philippines
  • Public Health*
  • Restaurants
  • Rural Health / trends
  • Russia
  • United States
  • Urban Health / trends