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Study: NYC Children’s Meals Bill Would Improve Health

The proposal would require children's meals to conform to certain health requirements.

Mnet 48210 Happy Meal

A new study suggests that a proposed ordinance would end up creating healthier children's meals at New York City fast food restaurants.

The proposal, titled the "Healthy Happy Meals" bill, would require children's meals served with a free toy to conform to certain health requirements.

The meal would need to include a serving of fruit, vegetable or whole grains, and the ordinance would cap the total amount of calories at 500 and limit fat, sugar and sodium in the meal.

A study by New York University's Langone Medical Center found that implementing those standards would reduce children's consumption of calories from those meals by 9 percent. Fat calories and salt intake, meanwhile, would each fall by 10 percent.

"There's a lot of value in the incremental changes that can sum up to a great impact with all the other changes occurring in the environment," senior study author Marie Bragg told Reuters.

NYU researchers surveyed purchases made for 422 children — at an average age of seven — at Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's restaurants in New York City and New Jersey in 2013 and 2014.

The meals averaged 600 calories, with a third coming from fat alone and including more than half the recommended daily limit of salt.

Just more than one-third of the meals came with toys, and nearly all of those meals failed to conform to the proposed guidelines.

"We’re at a point where we have to move the needle and we have to do it with policies like this," Bragg added.

The ordinance was introduced last year by Ald. Ben Kallos; it was first proposed in 2011.