Children generally face poor nutritional options when eating out, according to Mintel Menu Insights, a consumer research company.
Mintel, which tracks restaurant-menu trends, says the average kids' menu doesn't offer enough variety or healthful food.
"Restaurants dabble in healthier menus for kids, but there's still significant work to be done. Health and obesity issues, the popularity of ethnic foods and increased media coverage are creating pressure for revamped kids' menus. Soon, health and menu variety will be the new standards in kids' dining," said Maria Caranfa, a dietitian who is director of Mintel Menu Insights.
After analyzing kids' menus from 2005 to the present, Mintel Menu Insights said it "found the same clichéd foods repeated year after year."
Chicken fingers account for 10% of kids' menu items, followed by grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and burgers. Despite increasing health and obesity concerns, other top kids' menu items include hot dogs, pizza and corn dogs.
Mintel surveyed parents and found that only 30% said their children eat healthfully at restaurants.
The research firm said that items such as grilled, rather than fried, chicken strips and chicken salads are the ways some chains are trying to provide more healthful menu choices for kids.
-- Jerry Hirsch