Restaurant Children’s Meals Failing Their Own Test

A new report on the nutrition quality of restaurant children’s meals says that more than 90% fail even the industry’s own standard. The only good news for a restaurant in this report is that every children’s meal at Subway scored a healthy rating.

Judged by criteria of the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program, 91% of restaurant meals are unhealthy. Even more, 97%, fail criteria developed by an independent panel of health and nutrition experts for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which issued the report.

With all the public attention to children’s nutrition, one might expect some trends to improvement. CSPI issued a similar report in 2008, saying that 99% of the children’s meals fell short of their standards. Margo Wotan of CSPI sums it up. “It’s one thing if they had gone from 99 percent unhealthy to 50-50. But to go from 1 percent of kids’ meals being healthy to 3 percent over four years — it’s as if the restaurant industry hasn’t heard there is an obesity epidemic in this country.”

The dismal performance by restaurants makes recent progress in school nutrition look stellar by comparison. USDA has issued stronger standards for school nutrition. And a new study in JAMA Pediatrics found that children attending schools where lunches exceed the standards were leaner.

Let’s hear it for the lunch ladies.

Click here to read more in the New York Times, click here to read the CSPI report, and click here to read some better news about school nutrition.

Ronald McDonald in Thailand, image © Eric Molina / Wikimedia

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