A new report says that 84 percent of parents have fed their children fast food at least once per week. As the understanding of how unhealthy fast food can continue to grow, these high numbers are shocking to some.
The report was led by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The researchers behind the study found that among parents of children aged 2-11 years, a whopping 84 percent had fed their children some sort of fast food within the week. Looking farther, the researchers also examined various kid’s meals offered at several fast food restaurants. Of the 3,039 possible kids’ meal combinations, they could only identify 12 choices that were actually healthy.
However, those in the restaurant industry disagree with the report’s findings.
“There can be no dispute that the restaurant industry has been committed to providing a growing array of nutritious offerings for children,” said Joy Dubost, the director of nutrition and healthy living at the National Restaurant Association, in a statement. “Numerous surveys show the increasing number of healthful options in kids’ meals, and nutritious offerings in children’s meals is the number one food trend in quick service restaurants.”
Of the various meals looked at, Subway was the top choice. The Veggie Delight sandwich with apple slices and fruit juice was the top meal of the report as far as healthy options. Dairy Queen’s original cheeseburger with fries, a soda, and a Dilly Bar dessert came in at the bottom as the least healthy kids’ option.
The Yale report also found that for young children, exposure to fast food advertising was increasing. Preschool-aged children typically saw 2.8 fast food commercials each day. For older children, the number of commercials increases each day. Children aged 6-11 years see an average of 3.5 commercials. Frequent exposure to fast food restaurants increases a child’s desire to eat at one.
While the Rudd Center researcher agrees that many fast-food restaurants have worked to increase their healthy options, there is still much improvement that needs to be done. This is especially so as so many children are exposed to and consume fast food each week. Increasing the healthy options would be a benefit for families who want the ease of fast food as a meal option. – Summer, staff writer
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