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Kids' restaurant meals contain twice the recommended calories

17 January 2008 by

Children's meals in some high-street restaurants are packed with up to double the recommended daily amount of calories, research has revealed.

A survey, conducted for Channel 4's Dispatches programme which screens tonight, found that 70% of children's meals served at some of the UK's high-street restaurants and other visitor attractions contain more than twice the guideline amount.

The Government's recommended allowance of calories at lunch for a child of infant school age is 550 calories, with the daily amount recommended for those aged between seven and 10 being 1,845 calories.

Children's meals at restaurant chains Garfunkel's and Bella Italia, as well as the London Zoo and Science Museum, all had more than the recommended daily amount of calories.

A children's meal made up of a burger with chips and dessert at Chiquito contained nearly 1,400 calories.

The findings are likely to ignite concern that the meals are helping to fuel the UK's childhood obesity crisis.

Campaigners believe that next to unhealthy eating in the home and a lack of exercise, a growing trend to eat out in restaurants, which frequently offer fatty, salty foods, is exacerbating the problem.

Tam Fry, the chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: "Eating out, which has for a long time been the standard US practice, is now becoming much more prevalent in this country.

"Not only are the meals substantial, but they are "supersize" because that's what the restaurateurs think their ­customers will like for value for money."

TVs in school canteens could boost healthy eating uptake >>

Food service launch for kids' healthy ready-meals >>

Annabel Karmel, author on cooking for children >>

Read more on healthy eating here >>

By Kerstin Kuhn

E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn here.

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