| Opinion |

Unhappy Meal: 91 Percent of Kids' Plates Unhealthy

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The nutritional content of children's food at restaurants should be government-regulated. As I've said before, I believe there's no need to give in to "your whiny brat's tirade." The National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell menu standards, a voluntary initiative, recommends meals for children have 600 calories or fewer, get 35 percent or less of their calories from fat and sugar, and have no more than 770 mg of sodium, while emphasizing lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently analyzed the nutritional content of thousands of children's meals with a nutrition researcher from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and the results are not pretty. The study investigated 3,498 kids' meals from 41 restaurants. Out of those 41, 34 restaurants provided nutritional data.

Here are some of the results:

  • Half of the kids' meals offered contained more than 600 calories.
  • 83 percent of the meals contained some form of fried chicken as an entrée.
  • 73 percent contain fried potatoes.
  • 78 percent offer soda as a drink option, 58 percent offer fruit juice, 40 percent offer fat-free or low-fat milk, and 43 percent offer whole milk.
  • Nine of the top chain restaurants, including McDonald's, do not offer a single children's meal that meets the Kids LiveWell standards; 91 percent of the restaurants do not meet LiveWell menu guidelines.

Free will is a beautiful thing, but as I've said before, choices need to stem from knowledge. I doubt most parents know that the foods they are giving their children can and will lead to adult hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and a multitude of other maladies.

Restaurants should behave more socially responsible when it comes to feeding our kids.

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