March 28, 2013 --Ninety-seven percent of all the possible kids' meal combinations at chain restaurants are laden with fried chicken fingers, burgers, fries and soda. A report released Thursday by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 97-percent of kids' meals at major restaurant chains don't meet the nutritional standards set by the group for children between the ages of 4 and 8. CSPI looked at 3,500 combinations.
- Those standards are meals:
- do not exceed 430 calories, have more than 35 percent of calories from fat, or more than 10 percent of calories from saturated plus trans-fat; and do not have more than 35 percent added sugars by weight nor more than 770 milligrams of sodium.
- do provide at least half a serving of fruit or vegetable, including an item that is 51 percent or more whole grain, or including specified levels of vitamins or fiber.
- CSPI's criteria exclude sugar drinks in favor of water, juice, or low-fat milk.
Some of the least healthy kids' meals available at chain restaurants, according to a Center for Science in the Public Interest report are:
- Applebee's Grilled Cheese on Sourdough with Fries and 2 Percent Chocolate Milk has 1,210 calories with 62 grams of total fat (46 percent of calories), 21 grams of saturated fat (16 percent), and 2,340 milligrams of sodium. That meal has nearly three times as many calories, and three times as much sodium, as CSPI's criteria for four-to eight-year-olds allow.
- Chili's Pepperoni Pizza with Homestyle Fries and Soda has 1,010 calories, 45 grams of total fat (40 percent of calories), 18 grams of saturated fat (16 percent of calories, and about as much saturated fat as an adult should consume in an entire day), and 2,020 milligrams of sodium.
- Denny's Jr. Cheeseburger and French Fries has 980 calories, 55 grams of total fat (50 percent of calories), 20 grams of saturated fat (18 percent) and 1,110 mg of sodium. Denny's does not include beverages with kids' meals.
- Ruby Tuesday's Mac 'n Cheese, White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, and Fruit Punch has 860 calories, 46 grams of total fat (48 percent of calories) and 1,730 mg of sodium. Ruby Tuesday's does not disclose saturated or trans fat content on its menus or website.
- Dairy Queen's Chicken Strips, Kids' Fries, Sauce, Arctic Rush (a Slushee-type frozen drink) and Dilly Bar has 1,030 calories, 45 grams of total fat (39 percent of calories), 15 grams of saturated fat (13 percent of calories), and 1,730 mg of sodium.