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Study: Kids' Snacking Higher on Passive Commute
January 18, 2015

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A large-scale study has found that American students who ride home from school eat more unhealthful food than do their more physically active counterparts.

The study of 3,622 fourth- and fifth-graders from 44 mostly urban elementary schools in southern California involved students' filling out 24-hour surveys of what they ate and how they got to and from school. Transport options included walking, biking, skating, using a scooter, or riding in an automobile.

The study found that 23 percent of the students got to school under their own power, usually by walking. The number of active commuters was even higher after school, at 27 percent.

Data from the study, led by Dr. Kristine Madsen at the University of California, Berkley School of Public Health, showed that passive commuters (those riding in automobiles) consumed, on average, 78 more calories from purchased foods than did their actively commuting counterparts. The vast majority of those extra calories, the study found, were sugary or otherwise empty calories eaten during the after-school commute.

Researchers had been prepared to discover that active commuters stopped in large numbers during their self-propelled commute to buy snacks, but the study found otherwise.

The study appeared in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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