According to research, more than three-quarters of children's meals in chain restaurants contain more calories than is recommended.
Almost nine out of ten meals for children under five are more fattening than the government-recommended limits.
A staggering 30 percent of children in England are overweight and one in six is obese, figures show.
Being bombarded with unhealthy options when families eat out is making the problem worse, researchers said.
And while many think they are safer if they avoid hamburgers and nuggets from fast food restaurants, sit-down restaurants and cafe chains can be even less healthy.
A majority of the meals offered also contain more fat and salt than is recommended by health officials.
Although fast food chains may have a bad reputation, meals in sit-down restaurants and cafe chains, including those in the photo, tended to have significantly higher calorie, fat and salt levels
Researchers from the University of Roehampton in London and the Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland studied the food offerings in 20 popular restaurant chains.
They found that 87 percent of meals for children aged two to five years contained more than the recommended number of calories for the age group.
According to Public Health England, children of that age should not eat more than 364 kcal in a single meal, rising to 550 kcal for six to twelve year olds.
But parents of children in the older age group must also decide against expectations – 66 percent of their meals contained more than 550 kcal.
HOW FAT BRITISH CHILDREN ARE?
English children are fatter than ever – official data revealed in October that one in 25 10 to 11 year olds is severely obese, the fattest possible category.
And of the approximately 556,000 children aged up to leaving primary education in the UK, 170,000 have considered to some extent, figures show in May.
More than one in five 11-year-olds is obese – equivalent to about 111,000 children – and because they are so fat, they are more likely to have type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer or a stroke.
The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health says that children should be weighed at school every year because & # 39; danger is on the horizon & # 39; and the UK lags behind the rest of the EU in tackling obesity.
Experts also have children & # 39; drastically & # 39; arrive when they are in school.
Sugar in food is known to contribute to the swelling toughness of children, with huge amounts of popular foods full of sugar.
A sugar tax has reduced the effects of some soft drinks, but breakfast cereals can still contain more than 70 percent of a whole day's sugar in a single bowl.
Even a single can of Coca-Cola (35 g of sugar) or one bar of Mars (33 g) contains more than the maximum amount of sugar that a child should have over an entire day.
& Unless we are tackling this obesity crisis, today's obese children are becoming the obese adults of tomorrow, whose years of healthy living will be shortened by a whole range of health problems, & # 39 ;, said Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, in May.
The average number of calories in a toddler meal was 609 kcal, while it rose to 653 for older children – PHE says that even adults are allowed to eat 600 kcal per meal.
More than two thirds (68 percent) of younger children's dishes had more fat than the healthy limit, in addition to 55 percent of older children. & # 39;
And meals for toddlers contain on average 1.8 g of salt – more than the recommended 0.8 g. For older children this average increased to 2 g per meal, which was higher than the 1.5 g recommendation.
& # 39; Meals in British and Irish chain restaurants were generally too energy-free, contain too much fat (especially saturated fat) and contain too much salt for both older and younger children & # 39 ;, the researchers led by dr. Sue Reeves.
& # 39; Despite a choice of more than 16,000 meals, it may still be difficult for parents of younger children to choose a meal that provides the recommended number of calories for their age group. & # 39;
In their study, the researchers traversed 39,266 meals available to children in two age groups in high-profile chains in the UK and Ireland.
The restaurants include the Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Crown Carveries, Ember Inns, Harvester, Sizzling Pub Co. and Toby Carvery pub brands.
It also took in the high street restaurants All Bar One, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Nando's, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Wagamama and Zizzi.
And fast food chains Apache Pizza, Burger King, KFC, McDonald's, Subway and SuperMacs were all included too.
Perhaps surprisingly, Dr. Reeves and her team found sit-down restaurants tended to have more calories, fat, and salt in their meals than their fast food rivals.
The calorie consumption in the middle range in a fast food meal was 417kcal, considerably lower than 684kcal for full-service restaurants.
The worst offender had 256 options on the menu for young children, with an average of 908 kcal – worth more than half a day for a 10 year old.
And for older children, a restaurant with 54 options had an average calorie consumption of 978kcal – more than four Mars bars.
However, the researchers did not stop naming which restaurants had the least healthy menus.
The research is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
SO, HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN YOUR CHILD'S FAVORITE MEAL?
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