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Restaurant Food Can Be Worse for Kids Than Fast Food

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A new survey reveals the food served to kids at some of the nation's favorite restaurants is often worse than fast food.

Dr. Kim Mulvihill has more on these findings and some practical advice.

Margo Wootan/ Center for Science in the Public Interest: "Restaurants need to realize that being family friendly means more than handing out crayons and coloring your own placemats."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest tested the nutritional content of popular meals found on kids' menus.

They sampled twenty national chain restaurants - including Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Applebees.

"One look at these offerings and it's easy to see why most kids swallow nearly twice the calories at a restaurant than they do at home."

Here's a sample of what they found: at Outback Steakhouse - the boomerrang cheeseburger with fries weighs in at 840 calories and 31 grams of "saturated plus trans fat" - that's close to two days worth of bad fat.

Jayne Hurley/ CSPI Nutritionist: "And of course that's without the dessert, beverage, bread and butter."

At Applebees - the grilled cheese sandwich has 520 calories and 14 grams of bad fat. Add the fries that are served with it, and your kid is going to leave Applebees with 900 calories and more than a day's worth of bad fat.

And at Chili's, the Little Chicken Crispers with fries adds up to 710 calories, and 15 grams of bad fat - the equivalent of two McDonald's Quarter Pounders.

Turning up the heat on fatty foods may stir up a healthier trend. Some restaurants are already adding healthier items to their kids' menus.

And parents can make a big difference: "Give youngsters a kid-sized salad as soon as their behinds hit the chair."

Another idea is to split orders. Portion sizes at restaurants can be huge, and you can divvy up the fries.

You can also ask to substitute items: ask for steamed veggies.

And when it comes to veggies, it can take up to eight to ten times introducing a new food before kids develop a liking for it. So don't give up if veggies aren't their favorites.

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