Danger On The Kiddie Menu

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the group that warned of the dangers of eating movie popcorn and Chinese food, have a new target in their sights: kids' menus at your favorite family restaurants. Jayne Hurley, CSPI's senior nutritionist and co-author of the study, visited The Early Show to talk about the findings.

She tells co-anchor Hannah Storm, "What was really shocking to me was the calorie and the saturated-fat levels in these meals. You are talking about a half a day's calories for most 4- to 8-year-olds and nearly a full day's bad fat, the kind that clogs arteries."

The following are the worst items they found in three restaurants:

Outback Steakhouse Boomerang Cheese Burger with Fries and Coke
Calories: 970
Saturated Trans Fat: 31 grams

Hurley notes, "That's 1 1/2 day's worth of bad fat in that meal. Eating that would be like an adult eating a 12-ounce sirloin steak with three pats of butter plus a filet mignon on the side."

Applebee's Grilled Cheese with Fries and Coke
Calories: 1020
Saturated Trans Fat: 21 grams

Hurley says, "It sounds innocent, but the cheese is high in saturated fat, served alongside with the French fries which have a lot of the trans-fat. Add a soda and your child will waddle out of Applebee's with 1,000 calories and more than a day's worth of bad fat."

Chili's Little Chicken Crispers with Fries
Calories: 710
Saturated Trans Fat: 15 grams

It is the equivalent of two McDonald's Quarter Pounders. "Leave it to a chain like Chili's to turn a kid's chicken meal into the nutritional equivalent of two adult-size burgers," said Hurley, who pointed out that the chain fries in a partially hydrogenated oil that is higher in saturated and trans fat than liquid vegetable oil.

As for the good items, the best examples they found were brand-new items on the Red Lobster kids menu, items added after CSPI did its study.

Hurley says, "They have overhauled their menu and gotten away from the burgers and fries. You can get steamed crab legs, Mahi Mahi and served with steamed vegetables. Now we need more restaurants to follow their lead."

The CSPI also praised Olive Garden for offering a Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce kids entree, but panned that chain's Cheese Pizza, which provides eight grams of heart-harmful fat.

Hurley says the real dangers are in the calories and saturated trans fats.