Wednesday, February 25, 2004

And for the kids, heart attack on a plate

I got all excited when I saw the headline "Study: Kids Don't Fare Well Eating Out" and thought -- so my son's not the only one who falls apart in restaurants! They've actually done a study on terrible restaurant behavior! But alas, the story was really about the nutritional unsoundness of most sit-down restaurant kiddie menus. And you know, I probably didn't need a study to tell me that menu items like chicken fingers and french fries are high in fat, although the calorie counts and saturated fat tallies the Center for Science in the Public Interest has come up with for some of this stuff is pretty horrific. On the other hand, in the restaurants' defense, I'm guessing that the Kiddie Steamed Vegetable Plate would not be a big mover.

While I'd rather not give my kids clogged arteries along with their entrees, I think the scientists may be overlooking a few factors: Like the fact that not that many kids are in the clean-the-plate club, and often just play with that expensive, nutritionless plateful until their parents whisk them out of the joint in a huff. Then, too, given the rate of service in so many sit-down spots, the kids have blasted off into too-wired-to-eat land long before the main meal arrives, and so it's stuffed into a take-out container where it sits at home, getting soggy and uneatable, until Mom eats it just to get it out of there. And is my son the only one who reaches out grubby paws to grab pieces of his parents' more interesting-looking meals, leaving himself too stuffed for his personal trans-fat basket? Maybe so. But someone ought to do a study.

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