A new study by the U.S. special interest group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reveals that the so-called ‘kids meals’ offered by virtually all of the fast food chains are not as healthy as you might think. Some, according to CSPI, are downright unhealthy!
The report, subtitled Obesity on the Menu, is riddled with high fat, salt and sugar numbers, based on detailed laboratory analysis of these supposedly kid-friendly options.
The report capsulizes its findings in the following stern recommendations:
To support parents’ efforts to feed their children a healthy diet, restaurants should:
- Participate in the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program and reformulate meals so that all meet calorie, sodium, fats, and other nutrition standards;
- Offer more fruit and vegetable options and make those options the default side dishes with every children’s meal;
- Remove soft drinks and other sugary drinks from children’s menus;
- Offer more whole grains as a part of children’s meals;
- Provide calorie information for all menu items on menus or menu boards;
- Market only healthy options to children through all marketing approaches used by the restaurant, including through mass media, websites, in-store promotions and toy give-aways, school-related activities, and other venues;
- Only market the restaurant brand if the majority (<50%) of that restaurant’s children’s options are healthy items/meals; otherwise healthier meals should be prominently featured in advertisements rather than generically marketing the restaurant;
- Join the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).
The CFBAI is a voluntary program administrated by the Better Business Bureau where fast food purveyors and food manufacturers can register their pledge to support transparent advertising targeted to kids and to offering healthier kids’ menu options. Their site is also well worth a look if you are a curious parent, or just curious.
For the record: Among the fast food giants, only Burger King has signed on to the CFBIA thus far, and only PepsiCo Inc. and Coca Cola Co. have signed up among the soft drink bottlers.
How closely do you scrutinize what your kids eat? Once again, it comes down to my mantra: Make it yourself and control calories, salt, sugar and fat. And have a happier, healthier kid!
Now, I don’t totally condemn fast food: Just make it a treat for your kids, not a weekly expectation!
Which echoes Julia Child’s mantra: Moderation in everything, including moderation!
~ Maggie J.