Chain Restaurants Impact on Kids’ Meals and their Health

Kids Meals Get an “F” in Nutrition at Chain Restaurants

Nearly all of the meal possibilities offered to kids at America’s top chain restaurants are of poor nutritional quality. A report released today found that fried chicken fingers, burgers, French fries, and sugar drinks continue to dominate kids’ meal setting, with 97% of the nearly 3,500 meal possibilities not meeting CSPI‘s nutrition criteria for 4- to 8-year-olds.

And if you don’t believe CSPI, ask the National Restaurant Association (NRA): 91% of kids’ meals at America’s major chains do not even meet the nutritional standards of the industry lobbying group’s Kids LiveWell program.

One out of every three American children is overweight or obese, but it’s as if the chain restaurant industries didn’t get the message. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention” and addressed these health concerns for further research and studies to use in the fight against childhood obesity.

Two-thirds of adults and almost one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, representing young and old, urban and rural, and majority and minority populations. This epidemic of excess weight is associated with major causes of chronic disease, disability, and death. Obesity-related illness is estimated to carry an annual cost of $190.2 billion.

Most chains seem stuck in this time warp, serving the same dated meals based on chicken nuggets, burgers, macaroni and cheese, fries, and soda. I know that they can come up with healthier, cost-effective, nutritionally beneficial meals that are more current than these.

One chain that has gotten the message is Subway. All eight of Subway restaurants’ Fresh Fit for Kids meal combinations met CSPI’s nutrition criteria. Subway is the only restaurant chain that does not offer sugar drinks as an option with its kids’ meals, instead including low-fat milk or bottled water along with apple slices with all of its kid-sized subs.

“Our goal has always been to provide the most nutritious, balanced kids meals in the industry and we are proud to be recognized by CSPI for achieving that goal,” said Lanette Kovachi, corporate dietitian for the Subway brand.

To meet the CSPI’s nutrition criteria, kids’ meals must be at or below 430 calories, no more than 35% of calories from fat, or no more than 10% of calories from saturated plus trans-fat. Meals that meet CSPI’s criteria cannot have more than 35% added sugars by weight or more than 770mg. of sodium. The criteria require meals to make a proactive nutritional impact either by providing at least half a serving of fruit or vegetable, including an item that is 51% or more whole grain, or including specified levels of vitamins or fiber. CSPI’s criteria exclude sugar drinks in favor of water, juice, or low-fat milk. The NRA’s standards are quite similar, though they allow more calories.

Here are some of the least healthy kids’ meals available at chain restaurants:

–        Applebee’s Grilled Cheese on Sourdough with Fries and 2% Chocolate Milk has 1,210 calories with 62g of total fat (46% of kcal), 21g of saturated fat (16%), and 2,340mg. of sodium. That meal has nearly three times as many calories, and three times as much sodium, as CSPI’s criteria for four-to eight-year-olds allow.

–        Chili’s Pepperoni Pizza with Homestyle Fries and Soda has 1,010 calories, 45g of total fat (40% of kcal), 18g of saturated fat (16% of kcal, and about as much saturated fat as an adult should consume in an entire day), and 2,020mg. of sodium.

–        Denny’s Jr. Cheeseburger and French Fries has 980 calories, 55g of total fat (50% of kcal), 20g of saturated fat (18%) and 1,110mg. of sodium. Denny’s does not include beverages with kids’ meals.

–        Ruby Tuesday’s Mac ‘n Cheese, White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, and Fruit Punch has 860 calories, 46g of total fat (48% of kcal) and 1,730mg. of sodium. Ruby Tuesday’s does not disclose saturated or trans-fat content on its menus or website.

–        Dairy Queen’s Chicken Strips, Kids’ Fries, Sauce, Arctic Rush (a Slushee-type frozen drink) and Dilly Bar has 1,030 calories, 45g of total fat (39% of kcal), 15g of saturated fat (13% of calories), and 1,730mg of sodium.

At 19 chain restaurants reported on, not a single possible combination of the items offered for children met the CSPI’s nutrition standards. Out of these restaurants, 9 (that included McDonald’s Popeye’s, Chipotle, and Hardee’s) not a single kids’ meal met the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell standards. At Wendy’s, only 5% of 40 possible kids’ meals met the CSPI’s standards. Most of these items were either too high in sodium or saturated fat. At Burger King, just 20% of the 15 possible kids’ meals met CSPI’s criteria.

The last time the CSPI reviewed the nutritional quality of kids’ meals at chain restaurants, in 2008, it is reported that these restaurants have made little progress. In 2008, just 1% of kids’ meals met the CSPI nutrition standards, compared to only 3% in 2012. Only one-third of the chains had at least 1 meal that met the nutritional standards in 2008. This number scaled to 44% in 2012- good, but not great improvement.

While the CSPI report recommends that companies consider several changes, it also encourages the chains to participate in the NRA’s Kids LiveWell program. For these restaurants to do so, they would need to restructure their kids’ meals to meet these standards. The bottom line is that these restaurants should offer more fruits and veggies, and to offer these fresh options as an alternative side to French fries. Whole grains should be offered more, as well as removing soda or other sugar sweetened beverages from the kids’ menus. And just because Subway was the only chain restaurant to meet CSPI’s criteria for all kids’ meals, it should increase the whole grain content of its breads and continue to lower sodium.

The long-term problem I see in this article is that the chain restaurant industry is conditioning children to accept a really narrow range of food options. More chains are adding fruits and veggies at this point, but realistically- a lot more could offer these options. And given the childhood obesity epidemic that America is currently attempting at combating- you would think that more restaurants would want to take action in the health of their future consumers.

CBS News Clip

Print

subway-kids-meal

This is a standard Subway Kids’ Meal option

Advertisements

Happy RD Day!

Happy Registered Dietitian (RD) Day!!

March 13th celebrates Registered Dietitian Day! This celebration occurs every year during National Nutrition Month, which is March. RDs are the public’s go-to healthcare professionals when they need reliable nutrition information, in this field. RDs pull from their experience to create a personalized nutrition plan for people of every age. These are the professionals that are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you, the consumer/client/patient, can use!

Dietitians can improve the health of Americans and save money through healthcare costs. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by RDs is critical in preventing the top 3 chronic illnesses. It is well documented that MNT is associated with a decrease in utilization of hospital services of 9.5% for patients with diabetes and 8.6% for patients with cardiovascular disease. Also noteworthy is that participation in community-based programs that focused on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity had a 58% decrease in incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.

Registered Dietitians assist to promote a net decrease in healthcare utilization and costs for most people. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that in Idaho, for every $1 spent in wellness programs, companies could save $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs. Some interventions have been shown to help improve nutrition and activity habits in just 1 year and had a return of $1.17 for every $1 spent. Reducing the average BMI in the state of Idaho by 5% could lead to health care savings of more than $1 billion in 10 years and $3 billion in 20 years.

Well, unfortunately Wild and Wonderful West Virginia isn’t as lucky as ole Idaho. West Virginia still leads the nation in obesity, and was recently named the state with the highest number of overweight residents in the union. According to the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index released last week, 33.5% of West Virginia’s population is considered obese.

Mississippi is the closest with an obesity rate of 32.2%. Arkansas has a rate of 31.4%, Louisiana is 30.9% and Alabama is listed at 30.4%, to round out the top five.

Residents of the Mountain State believe that a reason for the high obesity rate is the change in physical jobs and increase in availability of fast food. The combination of lack of physical activity and the ready access of fast food and junk food in homes has really contributed to the epidemic. On the flip side of our state, nutrition-related efforts seem to be working as West Virginia is no longer in the top five for childhood obesity!

With the help from schools and communities, West Virginia is increasing physical activity and need for healthier foods. As a unit we are advocating and promoting activity and nutrition. I think it seems to be helping! All thanks to those RDs out there!!!

Job outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nutrition and Dietetics careers are expected to increase much faster (by 20%) than other jobs by 2020 and faster than many other industries within health care. In 2010, the median annual salary for RDs was $53,250, at $23.60 an hour. And the number of jobs available in the nutrition and dietetics field was 64,400.

Money Bags

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Fat West Virginia

Nutrition in the Community

RD Day 2013

RD Day

Is a Vitamin D Deficiency Linked with Food Allergies?

Vitamin D linked with Food Allergies?

Children deficient in vitamin D at age one are more likely to have food allergies, but only if their parents are born in Australia. This is based on researcher’s findings in Melbourne, Australia.

In a study of 5000 children, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found that one-year-olds with vitamin D deficiency were 3 times more likely to have a food allergy than those whose levels were adequate.

Children with two or more allergies were 10 times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency, according to the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The lead researcher said there was some evidence that vitamin D could play an important role in regulating a child’s immune system in the first year of life. It was likely that reduced diversity of bacteria in the gut due to increased hygiene explained the current food allergy epidemic, with vitamin D and an infant’s diet also plays a crucial factor.

Vitamin D deficiency was linked to food allergies only in children of Australian-born parents, which could be because they may have more diverse gut microbes.

”I personally think the hygiene hypothesis is very critical but in that context I think there’s a second factor, which is vitamin D and what we eat in first year of life.”

”It’s probably the two coming together at a critical moment in history which has driven this quite bizarre situation in the past 20 years where food allergies are on the rise.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of food allergy in the world, affecting more than 10% of infants.

Australia also had one of the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency, and was one of the few countries that did not fortify foods with vitamin D or provide supplements to infants.

”This study provides the first direct evidence vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy in the first year of life. We’re excited by these results, because what this suggests is there may be a modifiable factor that we can actually change and do something about to turn back the tide in the food allergy epidemic.”

Food allergies are obviously a concern to new parents and their young children. Children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies.

From 2004 to 2006, there were approximately 9,500 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children under age 18 years, in the U.S. From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years.

These numbers alone, represent the alarming epidemic of food allergies that are affecting people of every age and on every continent of the world. Not only are children in danger of potential allergic reactions but, parents are the responsible parties that have to take precautions and manage their child’s everyday diet.

CDC

Vitamin D deficiency linked to food allergies

Allergy-408x264

vitaminD_allergy

What Parents Need to Know

It’s no secret that America has a childhood obesity epidemic. The health risks that can accompany childhood obesity are so regularly featured on news reports that it’s amazing the problem is still so prevalent. And although many parents can identify a weight problem in their child, they might not know what to do about it, especially when it comes to handling the situation without damaging her self-esteem. Here is some food for thought for parents of overweight children, along with some practical, real-life advice for handling the situation.

Your Doctor Might Not Tell You

Your doctor might not let you know that your child is overweight or obese. This may be because he assumes you do not want to know. As a parent, it is easy to turn a blind eye to things like your kids being overweight or even when your kids develop a bad habit. If you have a suspicion that your child is overweight, you should approach your doctor about it. This will show him that you are interested in learning more about the issue and are willing to work with his suggestions on what to change or tweak in your child’s life.

You Are Not Alone

Sometimes it’s difficult to realize that you are not the only one with overweight kids. There are others out there who are just as concerned as you are and who are willing to share their wisdom. Search out those other parents and work together to achieve a common goal. That extra support is just the thing you need to keep on track, and having another overweight child working toward becoming a healthier size will help put your child at ease and encourage her to work hard at losing that extra weight.

Exercise Is Always a Good Thing

Not everyone enjoys exercise, but it’s essential for kids’ health and physical development. Come up with an exercise schedule that everyone in the household sticks to. There’s no reason to send your kid off to the gym for an aerobics class while you sit at home. Make it a family event that everyone looks forward to. If everyone likes to do something different, then create a schedule that includes all of the activities throughout the week. Working together as a family not only creates a built-in support system, it can also boost the health of everyone in the family and gives you an opportunity to model the habits you want your child to adopt.

She Shouldn’t Have to Make Changes Alone

Along the same lines as exercising with your child, don’t make them go through any aspect of this experience alone. Singling him out will just create tension and remorse that doesn’t need to be there at all. If the doctor says he needs to change his diet, change the diet of your entire family. Clean out that pantry of the junk food and fill it with healthier alternatives, encouraging everyone to eat better. Even members of your family at an average weight can benefit from cutting out the empty calories.

Some Foods Should Be Avoided

Going out for fast food three times a week is a bad habit to get into, regardless of how convenient it might be for time-strapped parents. All of the grease that is typical of fast food has no place in a child’s diet. And, keep in mind the word “diet” does not mean counting calories and starving your child. She still needs a decent amount of food. After all, she is growing and changing. With how much energy children burn throughout each day, chances are they need to eat more food than you would expect. They just need healthier fare than deep-fried potatoes and genetically modified meat.

Counting Calories Isn’t Always Right for Kids

The strict course of counting calories is a lot of pressure to put on a child and will single them out more than their weight already does. Stress can even be a trigger for kids and adults who are prone to emotional eating. So skip the added stress of counting calories and think about ways to instill healthier habits as a whole.

Your Child May Have Low Self-Esteem

It is possible that your child is being picked on at school or being made fun of by his peers because he is overweight, and he may very well be too embarrassed about the bullying to tell you about it. Sometimes kids don’t even necessarily mean to be cruel, but it can still feel that way to your child when his differences are being highlighted at every turn. If you think your child may be being picked on at school, speak with the guidance counselor to see what she has noticed and what she suggests that you do, but make sure that you’re making efforts to boost his self-esteem at home as well.

It’s Okay to Embrace Your Child’s Weight

Most importantly, embrace the way your child is no matter what. She should feel comfortable with who she is no matter what her weight is and understand that your focus on her weight is out of concern for her health rather than an emphasis on her looks. Just because she is overweight doesn’t mean she’s not a good child, and she needs to know that.

AuPair.org

fatty

Beware of the Mushroom?

Another elderly person has died from accidental mushroom poisoning at a California senior care facility, bringing the death toll to four.

The latest victim, 92-year-old Dorothy Mary Hart, died at a nursing home, according to The Associated Press. The date of her death has yet to be released.

The first two women died the day after a caregiver at their senior-care facility inadvertently served them a meal with poisonous mushrooms picked on the Loomis, Calif., property Nov. 8. The caregiver and three other residents of Gold Age Villa were hospitalized,  according to the ABC News affiliate in Sacramento.

Dr. Pierre Gholam, a liver specialist at University Hospitals in Cleveland, said he has seen an uptick in wild mushroom poisonings in his area, too. More than two dozen patients have arrived in the past three years with telltale mushroom poisoning symptoms, he said, including diarrhea followed by kidney and liver failure.

Gholam, speaking to ABC News by phone from a meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston earlier this month, said doctors there from across the country report similar increases in mushroom poisoning patients, even in areas not typically known for mushroom poisonings, such as the Midwest.

“Clearly, there is something that has changed, in my mind, that has led to more mushroom poisoning cases,” he said. “It looks like a nationwide phenomenon.”

The reasons are unclear but Gholam suggested that more people could be picking their own mushrooms in the bad economy to save money.

Gholam’s hospital is one of only a few authorized by the federal government to give patients an antidote called silibinin, which blocks the poison from attacking the liver. Fourteen patients have come from up to 150 miles away for the life-saving drug.

The poison in these mushrooms is called amatoxin, and it’s colorless and odorless, so people who pick or eat them won’t know until it’s too late, Gholam said. The poison fungi can also come in different sizes and shapes. Cooking or freezing the mushrooms does not deactivate the toxin.

Typically, people begin to feel sick within six hours of eating the mushrooms, and come down with severe diarrhea, which causes dehydration and kidney failure, he said. Without the antidote, liver failure can set in after 72 hours, and the needs a liver transplant after 96 hours.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mushrooms-kill-fourth-california-senior-us-cases-rise/story?id=17826740#.ULwUbobJpqQ

mushroom-poisoning

The Middle East Loves Fast Food?

The Middle East Loves Fast Food?

Kuwait has transformed from a humble pearl-farming backwater into one of the world’s richest countries per capita, in the past decades. But, because of this huge success, over 2 million Kuwaitis are discovering that success could come with a price. In the most recent years, Kuwaitis waistlines have enlarged to make them among the most obese people on the planet. Almost 70% of Kuwait males over the age of 15 are overweight or obese, according to the WHO. Women, the numbers are even worse, with a little over 80%.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently ranked Kuwait 2nd to the United States on a league table ranking countries by the amount of food they consumed per capita to sustain being overweight. The country’s weight gain has led to an unprecedented rise in obesity-related health problems, like heart disease and diabetes. Believe it or not, other neighboring countries of Kuwait’s also appeared in the top 10, with Qatar coming in 4th, the UAE at 6th, and Bahrain in at 10th on the table. Many people attribute the weight problem to rapid changes in lifestyle propelled by oil revenues that have transformed Kuwait into prosperous modern consumer society.

Most importantly, among these changes has been the introduction of fast food. American fast food outlets arrived with the U.S. troops during the first Gulf War, becoming a permanent fixture on the country’s culinary landscape. Some have adapted their menus to cater to bigger appetites in the region, such as a best-selling Pizza Hut dish that features a cheese pizza with a cheeseburger crust.

McDonald’s restaurant, which opened its first outlet in Kuwait in 1994, now has 65 restaurants across the country.

But there are other factors contributing to Kuwait’s weight problem. The country’s harsh climate — in which daytime temperatures can reach over 122 F — makes it tough to start physical activity during the day, encouraging a sedentary lifestyle and car culture.

Kuwaiti culture also placed strong emphasis on eating at communal gatherings — with little value placed on moderation. “If you eat less, it means you didn’t like it and whoever invited you is not a good host.”

But while some are embracing a new fitness culture of marathons and gym membership, others are turning to more drastic measures. Stomach stapling procedures are becoming increasingly popular in Kuwait, with enough demand to prompt the country’s first conference for medical professionals involved in weight loss surgery last year.

According to a report in Businessweek, the number of bariatric surgeons in Kuwait has increased 10x over the past decade, with at least 5,000 patients receiving the procedure in Kuwait last year — compared with 3,000 in Canada, which has more than 30 times the population. The report added that the legal barriers to surgery in Kuwait are lower than in the United States.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/08/world/meast/kuwait-obesity-fast-food/index.html?hpt=he_c2

Mcdonalds Middle East

Mcdonals in Mid East

Arabic McDonalds