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Kids' food under the microscope

Wednesday, 12th June, 2019 5:06pm

Research from Cork has revealed the lack of nutritional quality in children’s meals in restaurants.

New research by CIT and the University of Roehampton in the UK has found that up to 68 per cent of children’s meals in restaurants across Ireland and the UK contain more total fat and saturated fat than recommended by health guidelines.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, looked at children menus from 20 popular chain restaurants, and analysed over 39,000 meal combinations.

Author Dr Tara Coppinger, Department of Sport, Leisure & Childhood Studies at CIT said: “As families are opting to eat out more regularly, our findings indicate a worrying trend of young children eating increasingly unhealthy food.

“While the sugar sweetened drinks tax that came into effect in 2018 was a positive step to help improve the quality of food and drink on offer, this study proves that there is still a lot of work to be done in many of the country’s most popular restaurants.”

A total of 68 per cent of younger childrens’ and 55 per cent of older childrens’ meals contained more total fat than recommended and more than four times the amount of saturated fat.

Fast food restaurant meals contained less energy, fat, and salt than did full-service restaurants, and meal deals were less likely to meet dietary guidelines than main meals alone.

The research additionally found comparing meal deals and the single main course highlighted the extent to which additional courses and drinks contribute to the energy content of a meal.

In particular, by choosing the meal deal option, seen as more convenient and cheaper, parents are perhaps unknowingly ordering meals that exceed dietary recommendations.

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