1. Children's meals are popular with young restaurant patrons. At the same time, there has been increasing local and international concerns about prevalence of overweight and obese school children. Obese children have higher chance of remaining obese when they enter adulthood. Furthermore, obese adults are more likely to suffer from diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases at earlier age than average adults. The figures from Department of Health indicates that about 1/5 of primary school children in Hong Kong are either overweight or obese.


2. This study aimed to gain knowledge of the nutrient content of the meals that are marketed to children in restaurants in Hong Kong.

3. Children's dietary habits are important as children are considered a vulnerable group in society often with little influence on or involvement in what they eat. Evidence suggests that dietary habits in childhood and adolescence also influence eating patterns later in life. So it is vital that children do not develop a taste for salty , sweet or oily food in the first place. An unhealthy diet, including those that are high in salt, sugar or fat, can predispose children to a wide range of chronic diseases including high blood pressure, obesity, heart diseases, diabetes.

The Study

4 . This study covers children's meals from 15 local restaurants. Ninety laboratory samples, which can form more than 200 combinations of children's meals, were analysed at Food Research Laboratory of the Centre for Food Safety ( CFS ) and were tested for energy, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugars and sodium. The weight of edible portion and price of the meals were also noted.

5 . The resulting nutrient values of children's meals can then compare against the relevant DRIs of the Chinese Nutrition Society or WHO recommendations for 3 to 11 years old boys and girls. The results showed that the nutrient content varies greatly among children's meals from different restaurants and also among meals from the same restaurant. Some of the children's meals contain large amount of sodium, sugars, total fat or saturated fat, which exceed the DRIs/recommendations for 3 - 11 years old children proportion al to a meal (1/3 of the DRIs/recommendations). Some nutrient contents of these meals even exceeded the DRIs/recommendations for the whole day for these age groups. On the other hand, some meals are quite small that it does not provide enough energy to keep a 3 year old girl filled as a main meal.

6 . The children's meals with the lowest and the highest energy, total fat, saturated fat, sugars and sodium levels are summarised in the table below:

  Children's Meals Level per meal
Lowest energy level KFC - Hot wing, cobette (corn), Watson's distilled water 180 kcal
Highest energy level Ruby Tuesday - Mini burger fries , Qoo juice drink , chocolate sundae 1300 kcal
Lowest total fat level KFC - Hot wing, cobette (corn), drinks 8.2 g
Highest total fat level Ruby Tuesday - Mini burger fries , drink s, chocolate sundae 68 g
Lowest saturated fat level KFC - Hot wing, cobette (corn), drinks 1.5 g
Highest saturated fat level Pizza Express - Cream and ham pasta, drinks, bambinoccino (with a piece of biscuit), chocolate fudge cake 24 g
Lowest sugar s level KFC - Mushroom rice, original recipe chicken drumstick, Watson's distilled water 0.34 g
Highest sugar s level Pizza Hut - Spaghetti Bolognese set, hot chocolate 80 g
Lowest sodium level KFC - Hot wing, cobette (corn), Pepsi Cola/Watson's distilled water 220 mg
Highest sodium level Outback Steakhouse - Kid's Ribs, tomato juice drink 2500 mg

Advice to the Public

Advice to the Trade

More Information

7 . The related article is published in the  CHOICE MAGAZINE (Issue 461, released on 16 March 2015 ) (In Chinese only).

March 2015  
Risk Assessment Section 
Centre for Food Safety 
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department