One Healthy Choice Not Enough for Kids' Meals

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan

July 13, 2011

There's less to the National Restaurant Association's new program for children’s meals than meets the eye. Most restaurants already offer one or two healthy choices—but they are present amidst a minefield of high-calorie, salty, high-fat options. The great majority of choices on children’s menus should be healthy, given that kids are getting one-third of their calories outside the home, and eating out is linked to obesity.

Kids' food and meals at restaurants have become almost synonymous with junk. A 2008 CSPI study found that at the top 25 chain restaurants, 93 percent of the kids’ meals were too high in calories, 45 percent too high in saturated fat, and 86 percent too high in salt.

Restaurants-especially McDonald’s, which is not part of the new initiative-should follow Burger King’s lead and not just shove fries and soft drinks into kids’ meals, but ask parents if they want a fruit or vegetable side dish and milk, juice, or water instead. Our study of McDonald’s found that even though it shows healthier options in its advertising, it usually sticks fries in the box without even asking parents what they want.


Get Updates Via Email

Journalists can receive CSPI news releases via email.
Not a journalist?

Sign Up for Email Now



Subscribe Now

Subscribe Now »

Subscribe Today and Save!

In Recent Issues

Cover Story: 1 in 8: What You May Not Know About Breast Cancer

Special Feature: Soy Oh Soy: Is It Really Bad For You?

Brand-Name Rating: Pasta Sauce

Subscribe Now

Request permission to reuse content

The use of information from this site for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without written permission from CSPI.