Poor nutrition on the menu: Children's meals at America's top chain restaurants

Ameena Batada, Meg Bruening, Elizabeth H. Marchlewicz, Mary Story, Margo G. Wootan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: We evaluated the nutritional quality of children's meals at chain restaurants, because children obtain about a third of their daily calories from away-from-home foods and studies show that restaurant foods are often higher in calories and lower in nutritional value than foods prepared at home. Methods: We assessed the nutritional quality of children's meals at the 50 largest U.S. restaurant chains by visiting each chain's web site or calling the company. Eighteen of the chains did not have children's meals and 10 did not provide adequate nutrition information to be included in the study. The nutritional quality of each meal combination was evaluated against a set of nutrition standards based on key nutrition recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Results: Of the 22 restaurants that had children's menus and available nutrition information, 99% of 1662 children's meal combinations were of poor nutritional quality. Conclusions: Restaurants should support healthier choices for children by reformulating existing menu items and adding new healthier items, posting calories on menus, and setting nutrition standards for marketing to children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-254
Number of pages4
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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