The Nutritional Value of Children’s Menus in Chain Restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Type Article

Journal Article


M. Young; T. Coppinger; S. Reeves

Year of publication



J Nutr Educ Behav








OBJECTIVE: Obesity in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland is rising, as is the frequency of eating out in restaurants. The aim of this study was to investigate the nutritional quality of children's menus in restaurants. DESIGN: Cross-sectional review of menus aimed at children from 20 popular chain restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Total energy, fat, saturated fat, and salt were collected from every food item on the menu in each restaurant. All potential meal combinations were created. A total of 39,266 meals were analysed. ANALYSIS: Meals were compared with UK nutritional guidelines. Meals from fast food and full-service restaurants and main meals and meal deals were compared. RESULTS: The average meal for younger children (aged 2-5 years) contained 609 ±117 kcal, and for older children (6-12 years) 653 ± 136 kcal compared with guidelines of 364 and 550 kcal, respectively. A total of 68% of younger children's and 55% of older children's meals contained more total fat than recommended and more than 4 times the amount of saturated fat. Fast food restaurant meals contained less energy, fat, and salt than did full-service restaurants, and meal deals were less likely to meet dietary guidelines than were main meals alone. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Eating in chain restaurants, in particular meal deals, does not contribute positively to the diet of children in the United Kingdom and Ireland.