Why is it that some teens can eat fast food regularly and remain lean, while others who eat it gain weight? A new study may provide some clues.
"If I have fast food for lunch, I'll definitely try to have something healthier for dinner like a salad, or put in some extra fruits and vegetables," says Tars Searight, who is part of this fast food study.
That's the secret that researchers found in this study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that thin teens eat fast food like everybody else, but for some reason, they instinctively eat less junk and more healthy stuff later in the day after splurging on fast food. While obese teens did not compensate after a fast food meal, but they continued to eat unhealthy later in the day.
In other words, this study indicates it may not be a case of metabolism as much as good eating habits that keep thin people thin and heavy people gaining weight.
"Obese adolescents had a particular problem compensating for the calories in a large fast food meal, such that they consumed 400 more calories on days when they had a fast food meal compared to days when they did not," explains Dr. Cara Ebbeling, Boston researcher.
So, how fattening is a typical fast food meal for teens? The study found that during a single large fast food meal, with its high fat, starch and sugar and low fiber content, teens consume 50% of their daily calorie needs in that one meal. And that's why if they can just cut back on fat and calories the rest of the day after fast food they would be more apt to keep their weight under control.