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Children's Health

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Sweets Ban at School Parties May Cut Calorie Overload

Study Lends Support for Cutting Back on Cake and Other Sugary Treats at School Birthday Parties
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Nov. 18, 2011 -- As childhood obesity rises, more schools have banned parents from bringing baked goods and other sugary treats for class parties.

Now a new study suggests those controversial "cupcake crackdowns" may be on the right track.

The study shows that kids can eat as many as one-third of all the calories they need in a day at a typical half-hour birthday party.

And those calories are coming from foods high in fat and sugar and low in nutrients -- such as cake, fruit punch, ice cream, and chips.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that getting no more than 5% to 15% of your daily calories from solid fats and added sugars.

"No one wants to be the grinch who stole cupcakes," says David L. Katz, MD, MPH, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, in New Haven, Conn., in an email.

"But consider that there are multiple holidays each year, and every kid in a class has a birthday. If every one of those celebrations is an opportunity for caloric overload, it adds up to real trouble," says Katz, who was not involved in the new study.

The good news: When fruit is served alongside those sugary treats, kids actually eat it. In fact, having fruit at a party appears to cut kids' party calories.

The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition, Education, and Behavior.

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