A new analysis from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity found that fewer than 1 percent of all kids’ meals — 33 out of 5,427 — met the recommended nutrition standards set by the Institute of Medicine. Only 3 percent met the standards set by the food industry itself.
That hasn’t changed since the Yale Rudd Center did its last evaluation in 2010.
But the nutritional quality of specific items offered in kids’ meals has improved. Most fast-food chains now offer at least one healthy side dish in their kids’ meals, and three-quarters have increased healthy beverage options such as unsweetened teas, water, and milk.
“To be honest, it was pretty disappointing,” said Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives at the Yale Rudd Center, who presented the new analysis on Tuesday at the American Public Health Association meeting in Boston. “Most of the main dishes in kids’ meals still have a lot of fat and sodium, so they’re not healthy choices at all.”
That’s not so surprising, but here’s something that was: Two-thirds of kids ordering McDonald’s Happy Meals now get apple slices and a half-size serving of fries instead of a full serving of fries. Before McDonald’s made this the default option in 2011, two-thirds of kids skipped the apple slices and got a full serving of fries.
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