Kids’ Meals Fail Nutrition Tests

March 28, 2013  |  

As much as you’d love to, you can’t always give your kids a perfectly balanced, home-cooked meal. According to a new study from Center for Science in the Public Interest, eating out may be one of the worst things for their health. The group surveyed almost 3,500 kids’ meals from the top 50 chain restaurants and they failed to meet the USDA’s nutrition requirements a whopping 97 percent of the time. This is a slight improvement over the meals’ scores in 2008, 99 percent failed.

The study’s authors say that though more chains are offering fruits instead of fries with kid meals, they haven’t changed the staples like chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and hamburgers. Margo Wootan of the CSPI said, “It’s like the restaurant industry didn’t get the memo that there’s a childhood obesity crisis.” These meals have far more sodium, fat and calories than is healthy for small bodies. Worst was Applebee’s grilled cheese on sourdough bread, French fries and two percent milk. At 1,210 calories, this kids’ meal has almost three times as many calories the CSPI recommends for children ages 4 to 8. On the other end of the spectrum is Subway’s Fresh Fit for Kids meals. Kids have their choice of appropriately-sized subs, juices or water instead of soda and apple slices.

CSPI hopes their research will urge restaurants to change their menus. At the very least, they hope restaurants will include calorie information on their kids’ menus because their research found parents would make different choices given that information. With one-third of children in the United States considered overweight and 17 percent considered obese, the CSPI hopes their survey of popular kids menu will serve as a wake up call for restaurants—and parents.

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