What happened to ‘Eat your vegetables’?

Kids are scarfing down a lot of high-calorie and fried foods at fast-food joints daily, according to a government report that gives even greater weight to ongoing efforts to combat childhood obesity.

More than 1 in 3 children or teens in the United States eat at a fast-food restaurant on any given day, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The analysis was based on the CDC’s 2011-12 survey data, so nutrition campaigns might have since made a dent. But these worrisome consumption numbers have held steady since the 1990s. Further, the bad eating habits cut across gender and even economic status for children ages 2 to 19.

Fast food restaurants, of course, do offer healthy choices. But it seems the kids aren’t opting for grilled chicken salads.

The study found many of the young diners are getting 25 percent to more than 40 percent of their daily calories from fast-food joints.

These findings are vexing. Young children aren’t trotting to fast-food restaurants on their own; their parents are taking them. And, by the time they are teenagers, better dietary habits should be ingrained. The report should remind parents to set a good example and expose children to healthy foods, perhaps buying a new fruit or vegetable each week to try.

Bad dietary habits can last a lifetime and set up youngsters for serious health problems later in life.

— The Columbus Dispatch