Restaurants lack healthy food options for kids, Va. study finds

WASHINGTON — Healthy meal options for children are few and far between at restaurants in Virginia’s southern regions, a new study finds.

Researchers from Virginia Tech reviewed menus at 137 restaurants using the Children’s Menu Assessment (CMA) in the Dan River Region of Virginia and North Carolina and found that children’s meal options commonly came with high-sugar drinks, fried vegetables and branded toys, especially in predominately black areas.

On average, the restaurants studied offered five entrées on the children’s menu, and only 11 percent of the 137 restaurants studies offered at least one healthy entrée. And while 39 percent offered fruit, the study found that only 23 percent of the restaurants offered fruit without added sugar.

Half of the 137 restaurants offered milk, but only 28 percent offered low-fat or skim milk as an option for children. And no restaurants offered healthy dessert options for kids, such as low-fat ice cream.

According to the researchers, the Dan River Region has a high prevalence of obesity among adults and children, and lack of access to healthy food options only further contributes to the problem.

“Effective, comprehensive approaches to the individual and environmental factors contributing to obesity are urgently needed,” the researchers say in a release.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up