January 12, 2018
2 min read

Takeout meals increase risk for CHD, obesity in children

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Children who ate frequent takeout meals had an unhealthy dietary nutrient intake that increased their risk for CHD, diabetes and obesity, according to a study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

“This issue is particularly important in the context of the rising prevalence of takeaway meal outlets in many neighborhoods (increasing more rapidly in more deprived areas), which is itself an important determinant of increased takeaway meal consumption,” Angela S. Donin, MD, lecturer in epidemiology at the Population Health Research Institute at St. George’s, University of London, and colleagues wrote. “Technological advances have also meant that it is now much easier to order and have delivered takeaway foods, resulting in an increase in consumption, and although healthier takeaway foods are becoming available, this may well be strongly socially patterned.”

Researchers analyzed data from 1,948 participants (mean age, 10 years; 52% girls) from 85 schools from the CHASE study, designed to determine risk factors for CHD and diabetes in pre-teens.

Participants answered questions about their eating patterns, particularly how often they eat meals from takeout restaurants. A 24-hour recall was performed to assess dietary intake, and portion sizes were estimated by the participant using photos of common foods. Energy density, energy intake and nutrient intake were calculated. Other measurements such as height, weight, seated BP, serum insulin and fasting blood samples were performed.

Parents of the participants also answered questionnaires on their ethnicity, occupation and the ethnicity of their child.

Twenty-six percent of participants reported never or hardly eating a takeout meal, 46% reported consuming one takeout meal less than once a week and 28% reported a takeout meal at least once a week.

Participants who ate more takeout meals had an increased dietary intake of fat (P < .001), total energy (P < .0001) and saturated fat (P < .0001) and higher energy density (P < .0001) after adjusting for multiple variables. This group also had lower protein (P = .003), starch (P = .004) and micronutrient intakes, including vitamin B12 (P = .22), vitamin C (P = .05), iron (P = .09), calcium (P < .0001) and folate (P = .02).


Increased takeout meal frequency was linked to higher LDL (P = .04) and total cholesterol (P = .01).

Compared with participants who reported never or hardly eating takeout meals, those who reported eating a takeout meal at least once a week had a higher LDL by 0.1 mmol/L (95% CI, 0.02-0.18) and total cholesterol by 0.09 mmol/L (95% CI, 0.01-0.18).

There was no difference among the groups in insulin resistance or BP.

“These findings highlight the need for further investigation (particularly prospective studies) of the associations between takeaway meals, dietary patterns and risk markers for chronic disease both in children and also in adolescents, who have much higher takeaway consumption rates,” Donin and colleagues wrote. – by Darlene Dobkowski

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.