The Subway restaurant chain has been named, in a report by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), as the only restaurant chain in the country to meet the organization’s standards for children’s meals.
“One out of every three American children is overweight or obese, but it’s as if the chain restaurant industry didn’t get the memo,” says CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. “Most chains seem stuck in a time warp, serving up the same old meals based on chicken nuggets, burgers, macaroni and cheese, fries, and soda.”
According to information released by CSPI, “… Subway is one chain that has gotten the memo,” noting that all eight of Subway Fresh Fit for Kids’ meal combinations meet their nutrition criteria. CSPI also acknowledges that the Subway brand does not offer sugary drinks as an option with its kids’ meals, instead providing low-fat milk or bottled water along with apple slices with all of its kid-sized submarine sandwiches.
“Our goal has always been to provide the most nutritious, balanced kids’ meals in the industry and we are proud to be recognized by CSPI for achieving that goal,” says Lanette Kovachi, corporate dietician for the Subway brand. “As a mom and a dietician I know that it’s not easy to get kids to eat things that taste great and include essential nutrients. Our menu can make both parent and child happy.”
In the report, the group says that fried chicken fingers, burgers, french fries, and sugary sodas continue to dominate kids’ meals, with 97 percent of the nearly 3,500 meal possibilities not meeting CSPI’s nutrition criteria. CSPI further concluded that nearly all of the meal possibilities offered to children at America’s top chain restaurants are of poor nutritional quality.
To meet CSPI’s nutrition criteria, kids’ meals must not exceed 430 calories, more than 35 percent of calories from fat, or more than 10 percent of calories from saturated plus trans-fat. Meals that meet CSPI’s criteria cannot have more than 35 percent added sugars by weight or more than 770 milligrams of sodium. The criteria also requires meals to contain at least a half serving of fruit or vegetables, including a whole grain rich item, or including specified levels of vitamins or fiber.
CSPI last reviewed the nutritional quality of kids’ meals at chain restaurants in 2008.