Do You Think Fast Food Restaurants Need to Do More to Offer Healthy Alternatives?

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Nov. 8, 2010— -- A new study by Yale University researchers is raising new questions about healthier alternatives being offered to parents at fast food restaurants.

The study, which Yale calls the most comprehensive look yet at the nutritional content and marketing of fast food to kids, found that while healthy options for kids are available, restaurant servers rarely mention them to parents.

Researchers visited 250 fast food restaurants across the country and found that customers asking for kids meals were offered healthy items like apples only 6 to 8 percent of the time at McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's.

Of the more than 3,000 possible combinations of children's meals at eight different fast food restaurants, only 12 met nutrition criteria set by Yale for preschoolers and only 15 for older children.

"It's possible to get a healthy meal at a fast food restaurant but it's very difficult. You have to go in, you have to know exactly what you're looking for and you have to take the initiative to ask for it," said Marlene Schwartz, deputy director at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

The National Restaurant Association says: "The restaurant industry has been committed to providing a growing array of nutritious offerings for children.... The increasing number of healthful options in kids' meals ... is the number one food trend in quick service restaurants."

However, some critics of the study say it is first and foremost a parent's responsibility to seek out healthy alternatives for their children's meals.

Our question to you today: Do You Think Fast Food Restaurants Need to Do More to Offer Healthy Alternatives?

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ABC's Lee Ferran contributed to this report.