Researchers from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity recently analyzed the foods served by 18 fast food restaurant chains. They took into account every possible combination of menu items for a total of 5,427 meals. Out of the 12 restaurants that offered kid's meals, 11 included a side dish, such as apples, bananas, corn and other fruits and vegetables, that the researchers considered healthy. Also, more than three-quarters of the restaurants offered healthy drink choices, generally milk, juice or bottled water.
The rest of the research turned up less than positive results. Only 33 out of the 5,427 possible meal combinations that could be served to children met the recommended nutrition guidelines set by the Institute of Medicine. That means that less than one percent of the meals would make healthy choices.
This research was significant, because, according to a 2012 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
, one-third of children and 41% of teenagers eat fast food daily, the report notes. That can lead to a daily caloric intake increase of 126 for children and 310 for teens, a report in JAMA Pediatrics
You can learn more about the nutrition of restaurant meals offered to children and teens and how to make healthy choices by visiting FastFoodMarketing.org