The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 17 percent of American children ages 2 to 19—12.7 million total—are obese. The 12th Annual State of Obesity report, released in September, found that the largely rural South is the most obese region in the country, led by Arkansas with an adult obesity rate of 35.9 percent.
Researchers found that foods that make kids fat pack calories but are not filling, Ingraham writes. Foods linked to weight gain were French fries; fried chicken and fish; processed meats; fatty spreads (like butter); "just about anything with added sugar—think desserts, sweets and sugary drinks"; refined grains, "like bleached flour, which are found in most processed foods"; and "foods cooked in oil, whether fried, sautéed or even roasted."
Eric Finkelstein, who teaches at the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University and is the study's lead author, said "that calories from liquids are particularly problematic because they're less satiating than those from solid food," Ingraham writes. "Sodas and other sugary drinks, in other words, are doubly harmful."