July 25/Chapel Hill, N.C./The Hindu-- Food eaten outside the home, as well as fast food eaten at home, are fuelling an increase in calorie intake and obesity among children, a study says.

Eating location and food source significantly affect daily energy intake for children, according to the study conducted by the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill.

These categories showed the greatest increase in percentage of calories consumed daily from 1994-2006, reports the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Researchers also found that the percentage of calories from fast food has increased to surpass intake from schools and has become the largest contributor to foods prepared away from home for all age groups, according to a North Carolina statement.

For food eaten away from home, the percentage of calories consumed daily from stores increased to become the largest source of calories eaten away from home. Fast food eaten at home and store-bought food eaten away from home increased significantly.

“Overall, this study highlights the continuing rapid shifts in the sources of food for children in the U.S. -- both where it’s eaten and where it’s prepared,” said Barry M. Popkin, professor of nutrition at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

This study was based on a large sample, using data on 29,217 children aged 2-18 years from four nationally representative surveys of food intake for the U.S. population.

From the July 25, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.