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Fast-food boosts child obesity, happiness

TAIPEI, Taiwan, April 15 (UPI) -- Fast-food and soft drinks may boost children's risk of obesity, but they also make them happy, U.S. and Chinese researchers have found.

Hung-Hao Chang of National Taiwan University and Rodolfo Nayga of the University of Arkansas said programs aimed at tackling childhood obesity -- by reducing children's consumption of unhealthy food and drink -- are likely to be more effective if they also actively seek to keep children happy in other ways.

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Chang and Nayga used data from the National Health Interview Survey in Taiwan, a nationwide survey carried out in 2001, to examine fast-food and soft drink consumption, body weight and level of happiness of 2,366 children ages 2-12.

Fast-food included French fries, pizza and hamburgers; soft drinks included soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

One-quarter of the children in the survey sample were overweight or obese and about 19 percent sometimes or often felt unhappy, sad or depressed.

The study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found children who ate fast-food and drank soft drinks were more likely to be overweight, but they were also less likely to be unhappy.

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