Pizza may be the cheap, easy meal parents know their kids will actually eat, but it may be doing more harm than good, new research shows.
A new study published today in the medical journal Pediatrics shows that pizza helps contribute to a higher overall calorie intake for children on days they eat it. On those days, it accounts for more than 20 percent of their daily calorie intake and increased the amount of saturated fat and salt in children's diets.
Pizza "plays a major role" in weight gain among children, nutritionist Rachel Beller said today on ABC News' "Good Morning America."
"We are just having too much of some of the wrong ingredients," she said. "Pizza can be great if it is done right with the right ingredients. It just deserves an upgrade."
She suggested making pizza at home with veggies and a thinner, whole grain crust. Beller also recommended opting for low sodium sauce and all natural cheese.
The researchers studied data from children and adolescents up to 19 years old, and also compared pizza to sugary drinks.
"These observations emphasize that pizza, like sugary drinks, may be a significant contributor to excess caloric intake and obesity, and should become a target for counseling for the prevention and treatment of obesity in pediatric practice," they wrote in the study.