Monday, November 8, 2010

Healthier Fast Food Choices

Believe it or not, one of my kids actually asks for white milk and apple dippers. I love the idea of apple dippers, but the apples taste like they are dipped in chemicals. It's disgusting. We tend to eat fast food when we are traveling so I try to stay away from it at other times. The kids really love Taco Bell, but the one by our house is still being rebuilt from a fire. I do like the idea of healthier choices and if those healthier choices are marketed to kids, I think they will certainly ask for them more often.

FROM NBC: Long before kids learn their ABC's -- they know exactly what the letter "M" signifies -- as long as it's in the shape of golden arches. That's thanks in part to the many fast food ads out there.

But as new research shows -- it's often up to moms and dads to make sure their kids' on-the-go meals are as healthy as possible. There's a reason cars line up at fast food drive-thrus... you can feed a family within minutes at a low cost and for a lot of people the food just tastes good. But ordering a meal that's both tasty and healthy for kids can be difficult -- according to new research from Yale University.

Dr. Marlene Schwartz, Yale's Rudd Center:"One of the problems of the children's meals is they tend to have large serving sizes, and have too many calories for children of the ages that they're targeted to." The study focused on the menus and marketing techniques of 12 of the nation's largest food chains. Using federal nutrition guidelines -- the study found that out of more than 3-thousand meal choice combinations -- just 12 met those guidelines for the recommended amounts of fat, sodium and calories for preschoolers.

Dr. Marlene Schwartz, Yale's Rudd Center:"We just need to make it easier for people when they go to restaurants to have a healthy meal without having to use a magnifying glass to find it." Places like McDonald's do offer healthier side items like fruit with their kids' meals. Still -- according to the study -- patrons automatically received the most popular side item: french fries.

The companies involved say their ads targeted to kids meet certain nutrition requirements. In a prepared statement, a McDonald's executive pointed to the company's happy meal that includes apples and low-fat milk -- SAYING "100 percent of our children's advertising in the U.S. features dietary choices that fit within the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans."
The ads appear to work. nearly half of the kids in the study asked their parents to go to a fast food restaurant every week.

And a majority of mom and dads took them. The study also found the average preschooler sees about 3 fast food advertisements every day. The sandwich chain Subway did well in the study -- offering fruit and yogurt as side items for kids.
In a prepared statement -- the National Restaurant Association (which oversees the industry) said "nutritious offerings in childrens' meals is the number one food trend in quickservice restaurants."

more on this

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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