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Nutritious fast-food kids' meals are scarce, researchers find
Date:12/22/2008

EAST LANSING, Mich. Only 3 percent of kids' meals served at fast-food restaurants met federal dietary guidelines in the first study to examine the nutrient quality of such meals in a major U.S. metropolitan market.

Michigan State University's Sharon Hoerr, a food science and human nutrition researcher with the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, teamed up with economist Sharon O'Donnell and pediatrician Jason Mendoza from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to assess the nutritional status of kids' meals in the Houston market.

The small percentage of meals that did meet dietary guidelines included fruit as a side dish and milk, and nearly all were deli-sandwich meals. They also had about one-third the fat, one-sixth the added sugars, twice the iron and three times the amount of vitamin A and calcium as did meals not meeting the criteria.

"This report is the first to characterize and compare the nutrient quality of all combinations of fast-food kids' meals in a major metropolitan market," Hoerr said. "Because 25 percent of children aged 4 to 8 years consume fast food on a typical day, the diet quality of kids' meals offered by fast-food companies contributes significantly to their overall health and well-being.

"Two trends motivate the need for an evaluation of the nutrient quality of fast-food kids' meals: the increased prevalence of childhood obesity and the amount of food consumed away from home."

The team assessed the quality of kids' meals in the fourth largest U.S. city by using nutrient values provided by the major fast food companies, the seven nutrient criteria from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and dietary guidelines for sodium, fiber, added sugar and trans fat.

"We chose Houston because its fast-food restaurants include 12 of the 13 national and regional fast-food companies, represented by 477 restaurants that sell kids meals," O'Donnell said. "Virtually every meal combination i
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Contact: Sharon Hoerr
hoerrs@msu.edu
517-355-8474
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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