The next time you take the family out to eat, keep a close eye on what your children order.
A consumer watchdog group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says 97 percent of kids' meals it analyzed didn’t meet basic nutritional standards.
The worst offender on the list is Applebee's. Its grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread meal that comes with fries and 2 percent chocolate milk came in at 1,200 calories and 21 grams of saturated fat.
Next on the list is Chili'spepperoni pizza meal with home-style fries and a soda. It has 1,010 calories.
Both eateries criticized the study for singling out certain menu items.
The report recognized Subway for its “Fresh for Fit” kids' meals, which all met what the group considers acceptable nutritional standards.
Some of the least healthy kids' meals available at chain restaurants include:
- Applebee's Grilled Cheese on Sourdough with Fries and 2 Percent Chocolate Milk has 1,210 calories with 62 grams of total fat (46 percent of calories), 21 grams of saturated fat (16 percent), and 2,340 milligrams 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, 45 grams of total fat (40 percent of calories), 18 grams of saturated fat (16 percent of calories, and about as much saturated fat as an adult should consume in an entire day), and 2,020 milligrams of sodium.
- Denny's Jr. Cheeseburger and French Fries has 980 calories, 55 grams of total fat (50 percent of calories), 20 grams of saturated fat (18 percent) and 1,110 mg 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, 46 grams of total fat (48 percent of calories) and 1,730 mg 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, 45 grams of total fat (39 percent of calories), 15 grams of saturated fat (13 percent of calories), and 1,730 mg of sodium.