For the latest study, nutritionists with CSPI analyzed the calories in 1,474 different meal combinations at 13 chain restaurants. The nutrition information was gathered from the chains’ websites and corporate offices. Many of the restaurants offer numerous kids’ meal combinations and each meal was considered separately.
CSPI used national nutrition standard recommendations from different groups to determine nutrient needs for children. The Institute of Medicine guidelines recommend that moderately active children, ages 4 to 8, consume about 1,300 calories a day. Therefore, the consumer group calculated that a single meal should not contain more than 430 calories.
The findings showed that overall 45% of the meals are too high in saturated (animal) and trans fat and 86% were too high in sodium.