Here's the skinny on kids menus — they produce chubby children.
The greasy Mac & Cheese Quesadilla kids meal at Friendly's — with a whopping 2,270 calories — tops the list of unhealthy, fattening foods parents feed their kids at restaurants, according to an eye-opening survey by thedailybeast.com.
"Children's meals at restaurants are garbage," said Mary Jo Messito, director of the Pediatric Obesity Clinic at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
"Somehow, the restaurant industry has created special meals for children that are trash. And I don't know where that came from."
She said eateries stuff kids with high-fat items like chicken fingers and hot dogs, which are low in nutritional value — instead of promoting smaller versions of healthy adult meals like fish and vegetables.
Carlos Reynoso, 34, whose son chowed down on a 1,070-calorie Mac and Cheese children's dish — which came with a hot dog, milkshake and a soft drink — at a Friendly's in Elmwood Park, N.J., said, "That's not even good for adults. I just figured it was 500 calories."
Elementary-school teacher Mary Beth Marks, 52, of Pennsylvania, who had lunch with her family at Chevys Restaurant in Manhattan, described the children's offerings as "outrageous."
"Over 1,000 calories for children in one sitting is ridiculous," she said. "They're contributing to a growing epidemic of childhood obesity in this country."
The nationwide survey cites Friendly's, Houlihan's, Chevys, Outback Steakhouse and Applebee's as the worst offenders.
But Lynn Bolton, Friendly's spokeswoman, put the blame squarely on parents.
She suggested they explore the restaurant's Web site for nutritional information before they visit. She said her chain also offers healthy choices, like mixed vegetables and fruit, in the children's menu.
"It's all about choices parents make for their kids," she said. "We just offer a wide range of choices."