Kids love pizza. But eating pizza could really be slicing into children’s overall health, becoming a main contributor in childhood obesity.

Between the years 2009-2010, one in five children and about one in four teens in the U.S. had pizza. According to a new study reported by Lisa M. Powell, PhD, those kids and teens who ate pizza increased the about of saturated fat they consumed by 3 and 5 grams, and sodium by 134 and 484 grams.

Not only were fat and sodium intakes increase, but so were calories. Eating fast-food made pizza resulting in 323 calorie increases compared to school cafeteria pizza.

The study published in Pediatrics study data from 2003-2004 and 2009-21010 from kids ages 2 to 11 and adolescents 12 to 19. The participants were interviewed by gained dietary professionals about their diets and then again 3 to 10 days by phone.

The study found that daily energy decreased when the kids had pizza. One of the major concerns is the high sodium intake, which can lead to high pressure.

Not only is pizza tasty to children, but it also affordable and always an option.

“Given that pizza remains a highly prevalent part of children’s diet, we need to make healthy pizza the norm,” said Powell. “Efforts by food producers and restaurants to improve the nutrient content of pizza, in particular by reducing its saturated fat and sodium [salt] content and increasing its whole-grain content, could have quite broad reach in terms of improving children’s diets,” Powell added.

Pizza paired with soda can add to childhood obesity, as kids consume more empty calories without the nutrients they need to be healthy.

Parents should focus on serving pizza that is whole-wheat  or contains veggies.

[PHOTO CREDIT: rob_rob2001/ Fickr]