Those kids meals aren't for kids

August 4, 2008 7:32:36 PM PDT
A new study reveals that children's meals are overloaded with calories at some of the top restaurant chains.

A study just released by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy found those kid's meals aren't really for kids.

Almost all of them exceeded 430 calories -- the recommended amount of calories per meal for kids aged four to eight.

"Our study shows that 93% of meal combinations at the nation's largest chains provide a calorie overdose, despite the fact that these meals are marketed as appropriate for children," says Goldstein.

In some cases, the calorie count approached 1000. One Kentucky Fried Chicken kid's meal combo totals 980 calories. One McDonalds kids meal has up to 840 calories.

Health experts say it's contributing to childhood obesity, now at 28 percent in California. The restaurant industry says most eateries offer healthy choices.

"The focus that the study takes on just calories may be misleading. Diet Pepsi: zero calories. Low fat milk: 130. So what's more healthier for kids, particularly?" says Lara Diaz Dunbar from the California Restaurant Association.

The report points out five fast food chains that offered no kids' meals below the recommended 430 calories:

-Kentucky Fried Chicken
-Sonic
-Jack In The Box
-Chick-Fil-A
-Taco Bell

The study found Subway offered the most meals within the recommended calorie count.

Health experts hope California takes New York City's lead by mandating calorie counts on menus. There's a bill currently pending in the Assembly.

"The dietary intake, calories in, is probably fueling the epidemic, much more than reduced physical activity," says Paul Simon, M.D. from the LA County Public Health Dept.

Eating out now accounts for one-third of children's caloric intake. Some parents had no idea how what they were feeding their kids.

"This is ridiculous. Little kids? A thousand calories? Our meals are only 2000 a day and they're eating 1/2 of what adults are supposed to eat. That's ridiculous," says Michelle McMoore, concerned mother.

The New York City Health Department found that with the calories posted on the menus, people were likely to eat 53 calories less at that meal.

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