Healthier Fast Food Kids’ Meals Still Unhealthy
There is a little something more in fast food children’s meals than just a plastic toy. There is also the increased possibility for diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and poor academic performance.
Not that long ago, fast food chains announced a commitment to making kids’ meals healthier. In an environment where 17 million American children and adolescents are obese, the news was welcome. Read: Schools Fighting Childhood Obesity The problem is that some of the new, healthier options aren’t that healthy.
For instance, a McDonalds Cheeseburger Happy Meal contains 890mg of sodium — about 75% of the total daily allowance for children. For reference, the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily sodium intake for children aged 4 to 8 is 1,200 milligrams. And a Sonic Kids’ Jr. Burger Meal has more sugar than two Twinkies. Read: Fast Food Obesity America Goes Super-Sized
There are, however, some golden needles among the haystack when it comes to finding healthy fast food meals for kids. Let’s compare many popular options on the kid’s menu that aren’t so healthy, then look at our pick for the healthiest fast food meal for kids.
Comparing the Menus
Meals for moderately active preschoolers should contain about 410 calories on average. While it is possible to put together a 400-calorie kid’s meal in a fast food restaurant, small changes can turn a healthy meal into a caloric overload. For example, if apple slices are replaced with french fries in a healthy meal, the calorie count can jump from 400 to over 600. Read: Our Food is Killing Us
If you are wondering how one kids’ menu compares with another, here are a few examples.
- KFC Li’l Bucket consists of a Chicken Little Sandwich, mac and cheese, Capri Sun Roarin’ Waters, and GoGo Squeeze Apple Sauce. It totals 570 calories.
- McDonald’s cheeseburger, small fries, milk, and apple slices is 645 calories.
- Taco Bell child-sized meal consists of 1 crunchy taco, chips and guacamole, and a 7 ounce low fat chocolate milk for a total of 710 calories.
- Wendy’s kids’ cheeseburger, kids’ fries, and Jr. Original Chocolate Frosty is 710 calories**.
- Boston Market kids’ chicken, mashed potatoes, 12 ounce lemonade, and cornbread is 710 calories.
- Carl’s Jr. Kids’ Meal consists of a kids’ cheeseburger, onion rings , and 12 ounce fruit punch for a total of 960 calories.
Healthiest Fast Food Kids’ Meal
There are healthier fast food kids’ meals to be found. And our pick for healthiest fast food kid’s meal is Chick-fil-A’s 4-Pc Grilled Nuggets Kid’s Meal with fruit cup that comes in at 130 calories, 6g fat, 5g carbs, and 14g protein (per the product website). Add a 7 oz low fat milk with 150 calories, 3g fat, 26g carbs, and 7g protein (calculated via MyFitnessPal).
Many mothers will feed their children readily-available convenience foods, not knowing that these foods are dense in calories, low in nutrition, and contribute to being overweight. Currently, 1 in 3 children ages 2-19 is overweight. Read: Can Junk Food Laws End Child Obesity
In good health,