Children's meals served in restaurants, cafés and other high-street outlets are failing to meet basic nutrition guidelines recommended for schools, according to a report in Food Magazine.
A survey of 141 children's meals in popular restaurants found every one failed the minimum standards recommended for schools.
Many meals contained high levels of fat and saturated fat, and many had too many calories and not enough essential vitamins and minerals.
The unhealthiest meals were:
- Harvester Harvester's Rib Ticklers meal provided more than two times the maximum recommended calorie intake, four times the maximum recommended fat content and more than three times the saturated fat content for a children's meal
- Wacky Warehouse
Its chicken nugget meal was called a "healthy option" despite containing too much fat, saturated fat and calories, and not enough fibre, iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate and sodium
Garfunkel's hamburger, fries and baked beans meal provided double the recommended calorie intake for children aged 5-6 and almost double for 7 to 10-year-olds. It also contained more than twice the recommended fat and more than three times maximum saturated fat content for a children's meal
Rachael Foulds, author of the research, commented: "Most meals analysed were energy-dense and low in fibre and essential vitamins and minerals.
"We found a woeful lack of fruit and vegetables on the menus. Only two menus offered a selection of fresh vegetables, while those that included pudding in the meal failed to offer any fruit.
"Consequently it was very difficult to choose a healthy meal from the children's menus."
The report has been submitted to the Food Standards Agency.
Food Magazine is published by national non-profit organisation the Food Commission.
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