I certainly wasn't surprised to read how most of the kids' meals offered by restaurants exceed 430 calories - an amount that is one-third of what the National Institute of Medicine recommends that children ages four through eight should consume in a day.
The report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest looked into the nutritional quality of kids’ meals at 13 top restaurant chains (McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, Jack in the Box, Dairy Queen, Arby’s, Chili's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Denny’s, and Subway).
Chili's has 700 possible kids' meal combinations, including one comprised of country-fried chicken crispers, cinnamon apples and chocolate milk (1,020 calories), while another comprised of cheese pizza, homestyle fries, and lemonade (1,000 calories). Burger King has a “Big Kids” meal with a double cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk (910 calories), and KFC has a "Laptop Meal" with 940 calories worth of popcorn chicken, baked beans, biscuit, Teddy Grahams, and fruit punch.
Subway’s kids’ meals came out the best among the chains examined in the report. Only 6 of 18 “Fresh Fit for Kids” meals — which include a mini-sub, juice box, and one of several healthful side items such as apple slices, raisins or yogurt — exceed the 430-calorie threshold. But Subway is the only chain that doesn’t offer soft drinks with kids’ meals, which helped lower the calorie count.
Six restaurant chains — Applebee’s, TGIFriday’s, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and IHOP (International House of Pancakes) — weren’t included in the report because they do not disclose nutrition information about their meals even when asked, the center said.