"Obesity" on kid's meal menus

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- What are your children eating? Research shows the food offered to children at many restaurants could be harming their health.

A report released by Center for Science in the Public Interest says out of nearly 3500 kids’ meals tested, 97 percent of them didn't meet expert nutrition standards for children's meals.

The study also found nineteen of the restaurant chains offering children's meals do not have even one meal that meets the nutrition standards. Many parents here in town say the numbers are startling enough to have them re-think their dining out habits.

“I wasn't surprised with the numbers in the report. One of the reasons we don't go to chains restaurant is they don't offer healthy options,” said mother of two, Erin Anderson.

“It is a surprise, yes. You automatically think, well if it's for kids, it's alright; apparently not,” said mother Coring Duffy.

“When kids are eating out they tend to eat 300 extra calories per meal, as opposed to when they're eating at home,” said Patient Clinical Dietitian with Mayo Clinic Health System, Tom Tio.

Parents say it's easy to watch what their kids eat when they're at home, but eating out is a different story.

“We make a lot of healthy meals at home, and when we go out to eat, it's considered a treat, and it would be nice to have those same options available,” said a mother of three boys, Kitri Boser.

“The restaurants are going to give you what sells; that’s what they have to do. I think it's more up to the parents to watch what their kids is eating as supposed to restaurants responsibility,” said a father of three, Wayne Fuller.

And some parents say restaurants are mistaken if they think children only want deep-fried goodness. Sometimes veggies and fruit do make the cut.

“As parents if we made the restaurants more aware that we are watching what the kids are eating, that we made healthy choices for our children, I think they would be more aped to start having healthier options,” said Fuller.

“Plan meals at home; it's a change to sit down as a family. I think it doesn't happen nearly as much as it used to,” said Tio.

Some of the worst items on children's menu according to CSPI is Applebee’s grilled cheese on sourdough with fries and 2 percent chocolate milk. It has a little over 12-hundered calories with 62 grams of total fat. Applebee’s responded to the study by saying that their restaurant is all about choices and their children's menu provides many options that are significantly lower in calories.

Applebee's Response to CSPI:

“At Applebee's, our menu is all about choices. Although this report focuses on one sandwich from our children’s menu, the full Applebee’s children’s menu provides many options that are significantly lower in calories, fat and sodium, including those that meet the National Restaurant Association’s “Kids LiveWell” standards. For example, our kid’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich, with a side of steamed broccoli and apple or grape juice, totals only 355 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 600 milligrams of sodium. We know Applebee’s best serves our guests by providing a wide selection of dishes, and we'll continue to do so by expanding the number of options for kids by the end of this year.”

NOTE: For the CSPI Report refer to the link above.

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