Kids’ restaurant meals ‘have too much salt, fat’

 

Kids meals in restaurant chains fail nutrition tests according to a new study
Kids meals in restaurant chains fail nutrition tests according to a new study

The menus offered to children by most U.S. restaurant chains have too many calories, too much salt or fat, and often not a hint of vegetables or fruit, according to a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The group, which has agitated for everything from healthier popcorn at the movies to calorie labeling in supermarkets, found that among almost 3,500 combinations surveyed, kids’ meals failed to meet nutritional standards 97 percent of the time.

That was a marginal improvement over 2008 when such meals failed to meet standards 99 percent of the time.

Every children’s meal offered at popular chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Dairy Queen, Hardee’s, McDonald’s, Panda Express, Perkins Family Restaurants and Popeyes fell short of standards adopted by the center from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutritional recommendations.

The meals also fell short of standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell Program, said the CSPI, which titled its study, “Kids’ Meals: Obesity on the Menu.”

“Most chains seem stuck in a time warp, serving up the same old meals based on chicken nuggets, burgers, macaroni and cheese, fries, and soda,” said Margo Wootan, CSPI nutrition policy director. “It’s like the restaurant industry didn’t get the memo that there’s a childhood obesity crisis.”

Among the meals singled out was Applebees’ grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread, fries and two percent chocolate milk, which has 1,210 calories, 62 grams of fat and 2,340 milligrams of sodium.

The combo meal had nearly three times as many calories as the CSPI’s criteria for four- to- eight-year-olds suggest.

At Ruby Tuesday, the macaroni and cheese, white cheddar mashed potatoes and fruit punch combo has 870 calories, 46 grams of fat and 1700 milligrams of sodium, said Wootan.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that children eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day to avoid high blood pressure, which can lead to coronary disease, stroke and other ailments.

Being overweight as a child leaves a person vulnerable to heart disease, diabetes and a shortened life span. About one-third of American children are now considered overweight and 17 percent are considered obese, according to USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The CSPI cited Subway restaurants’ Fresh Fit For Kids meal combinations as exceptions to the salty, fatty norm.

Subway serves apple slices with its kid-sized sub sandwiches and offers low-fat milk or bottled water instead of soda. All eight of its children’s meals met CSPI’s nutrition criteria.

A few other establishments have begun to offer side dishes beyond French fries. In fact, every child’s meal at Longhorn Steakhouse now comes with fruit or a vegetable.

“More chains are adding fruit, like apple slices, to their menus, but practically every chain could be adding more vegetable and whole grain options,” said Ameena Batada, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Wellness at the University of North Carolina Asheville.

Labeling can be a potent tool. The report cited two studies that indicated customers who are provided with calorie counts on the menu sometimes gravitate toward healthier choices.

To produce its study, the CSPI looked at 50 top U.S. chain restaurants, finding 34 of them had meals designed for children and were willing to provide nutritional data. It analyzed those meals and meal combinations.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

The Boston Marathon: Step by step, the race…

For over a century, the Boston Marathon has been an event centered around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there’s no denying the face of the renowned race has been changed…

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.