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Most kids' meals at big chain restaurants are unhealthy, report finds

March 28, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest revealed Thursday chain restaurants are failing our children.

"A panel of nutrition and health experts looked at the top 50 chain restaurants in terms of the kids' combo meals offered, and they compared them against nutrition standards," said dietitian Patricia Bannan.

She says what's offered is too high in sugar, salt, fat and calories.

"What they found is that 97 percent of the chains' kids' meals failed to meet the nutrition and health standards," she said. "One of the problems is one in three kids is obese or overweight and 25 percent of their calories are being eaten out at restaurants."

According to CSPI, the three worst offenders include:

-Applebee's grilled cheese with fries and chocolate milk at 1,210 calories, 62 grams of fat

-Chili's pepperoni pizza with fries and soda at 1,010 calories, 45 grams of fat

-Denny's junior cheeseburger and french fries at 980 calories, 55 grams of total fat

Out of all the chains, only Subway got it right. Offering eight Fresh Fit Kid combos with kid-sized subs, low fat milk or water options and apple slices.

KFC has released its Lil Bucket of baked chicken, green beans and applesauce squeeze at 205 calories, 4 grams of fat and 565 miligrams sodium.

CSPI's nutrition criteria includes:

-Meals must not exceed 430 calories

-No more than 35 percent of calories from fat

-No more than 10 percent of calories from saturated plus trans fat

-No more than 35 percent added sugars by weight

-No more than 770 milligrams of sodium

So what's a parent to do if they're looking for a healthy alternative while dining out? Larry Nicola of Nic's Beverly Hills doesn't offer a children's menu but he knows kids will eat more than the typical chicken fingers, burger, fries and soda if they're offered delicious options.

Now concerned parents can consider ordering the National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell app. You simply look on the application, pick the restaurant, choose the item and check those nutrition facts. To learn more about the Kids LiveWell app, visit the Healthy Dining Finder website.


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