It's no secret kids like fast food. And fast food likes kids--so much so that some companies have ramped up their marketing efforts in the past couple of years, says a new report released Monday from Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.
The report details findings on fast food marketing and nutrition information, based on examining the marketing endeavors of 12 large national fast food chains. Researchers also looked at data on nutritional information in more than 3,000 children's meal combos and 2,781 menu items.
The information doesn't put fast food companies in the best light. For example, the report found that (shocker) unhealthful foods reign on menus. Out of 3,039 likely meal combinations, a dozen met nutrition standards the researchers set for preschoolers, and 15 met the criteria for older children. Sugar and saturated fat make up at least 30% of the calories of items bought by kids and teens.
The report is also critical of how some fast food restaurants don't make healthful options more obvious. It found that although most establishments have at least one nourishing side dish and beverage for their children's meals, these are hardly ever offered as an alternate choice. And despite advertisements that show healthful options, the report finds that French fries are served with kids' meals 86% of the time, and soft drinks at least 55% of the time.