Watchdog Group Wants Calorie Count on Kids Meals - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

From NBC News

Watchdog Group Wants Calorie Count on Kids Meals


Ask pretty much any kid and they'll tell you why they like to eat out.   The challenge is in ordering the right food.

Some parents say they bite the bullet and get the junk -- they just don't do it all the time. 

That may be a good thing because a new study by a watchdog and frequent critic of the food industry says kids are getting twice as many calories when they eat out compared to when they eat at home.

Margo Wootan, Nutrition Director of CSPI says "The obesity rates in children have tripled over the last two decades, yet still the overwhelming majority of children meals in chain restaurants are too high in calories."

That is sometimes double what they should be according to The Center for Science in the Public Interest.  

The Center studied the menus at 13 of the most popular restaurant chains and found 93% of the kids' meals had well over the 430 recommended calories per meal!

And eating out can mean a lot more of the food that isn't considered healthy:

  1. -89% of the restaurants offered fried chicken on the kids' menu.
  2. -84% offered fries.
  3. -63% offered burgers.

Now, a call to put the total calorie count on menus for all to see.

Michael Jacobsen, Executive Director of CSPI says "When you take a kid out to a restaurant, practically every meal that's aimed at kids is too high in calories, in saturated fat, and salt."

And that can contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. But the restaurant industry says it's already worked hard to improve the kids' menus.

Mcdonald's, for one, points out its happy meals now come with the option of apple slices and milk. And parents can always order salads for their kids instead of big macs and fries."

Sheila Weiss is from The Nation Restaurant Association"We believe its a shared responsibility. It's certainly the parents and children's responsibility to understand their own individual needs and be able to make those choices. But it's also our responsibly to provide those options."

Who scored best? Subway!

The hard part, say the experts, is convincing kids to choose the healthy options, when that burger and fries are calling their name.