Publication Details

Wellard-Cole, L., Hooper, A., Watson, W. L. & Hughes, C. (2019). Nutrient composition of Australian fast-food and fast-casual children's meals available in 2016 and changes in fast-food meals between 2010 and 2016. Public Health Nutrition, 22 (16), 2981-2988.


Objective:A quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese. Research conducted in 2010 found that fast-food children's meals were energy-dense and nutrient-poor. Since then, menu labelling and self-regulation of marketing have been introduced in Australia. The present study aimed to: (i) investigate the nutrient composition of children's meals offered at fast-food chains; (ii) compare these with children's daily requirements and recommendations and the food industry's own criteria for healthier children's meals; and (iii) determine whether results have changed since last investigated in 2010.Design:An audit of nutrition information for fast-food children's meals was conducted. Meals were compared with 30 % (recommended contribution for a meal) and 100 % of children's daily recommendations and requirements. A comparative analysis was conducted to determine if the proportion of meals that exceeded meal requirements and recommendations, and compliance with the food industry's own criteria, changed between 2010 and 2016.Setting:Large Australian fast-food chains.Participants:All possible children's meal combinations.Results:Overall, 289 children's meals were included. Most exceeded 30 % of daily recommendations and requirements for a 4-year-old's energy, saturated fat, sugars and Na. Results were also substantial for 8- and 13-year-olds, particularly for Na. When compared with mean energy and nutrient contents from 2010, there were minimal changes overall.Conclusions:Children's meals can provide excess energy, saturated fat, sugar and Na to children's diets. Systematic reformulation of energy, saturated fat, sugars and Na would improve the nutrient composition of the meals.

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