New York, Sep 8 (IANS): Is your child obsessed with "gateway foods" like bread, cereals, desserts, sodas, candies and more? It's time for you to keep a check on their daily intake.
According to a new study, certain ultra-processed foods, such as candy, pastries and frozen desserts, may be "gateway" foods for adolescents, leading them to eat higher quantities of other unhealthy foods.
"Ultra-processed foods are designed to be hyper-palatable, or engineered to be as addictive as possible," said Maria Balhara from Broward College in Florida in the US.
Balhara led the study while dual-enrolled at Broward College while attending Cooper City High School.
"They're also cheap and convenient, which makes them hard to resist. Most people are eating too many of these foods without realising it," she added.
The research recommends that reducing consumption of key gateway foods ultimately impacts overall consumption of ultra-processed foods, which are high in sugar, salt, unhealthy trans fat and artificial flavours and colours.
The study was based on data from 315 teens aged between 13-19 years, observed how frequently adolescents consumed 12 ultra-processed food products during the previous 8 weeks.
The analysis found that among the identified gateway foods, increased consumption of frozen desserts, pastries and candy was associated with an increased consumption of all other ultra-processed foods by 11 per cent, 12 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.
They also reported that 43 per cent of the adolescents estimated that they increased the frequency of ultra-processed foods after pandemic restrictions were lifted compared with their consumption before the pandemic.
"For teenagers whose consumption of ultra-processed foods has not yet been established, certain gateway foods such as candy, store-bought pastries and frozen desserts should be avoided, since increased consumption of these foods appears to lead to increased consumption of other processed foods," Balhara said.