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Are “Healthy” Fast-Food Meals for Kids Really Healthy?

Are “Healthy” Fast-Food Meals for Kids Really Healthy?

The urge to name the healthiest, and unhealthiest, fast-food meals in America continues to capture headlines. An infographic from Online Schools showed one of the reasons; calories consumed. The average daily intake in Congo is 1,500 calories. In the U.S. that soars to 3,760.

Now the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has surveyed the children’s meals dubbed “healthy” by fast-food chains. They find what is offered to children “alarmingly high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium.”

In order of their contribution to childhood obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and diabetes, PCRM has singled out the “Five Worst ‘Healthy’ Fast-Food Kids Meals.”

  • In the top spot is Chick-fil-A, with its Grilled Nuggets Kids Meal. PCRM pronounces it the winner because it serves up as much cholesterol as a Big Mac.
  • Second place goes to the McDonald’s Cheeseburger Happy Meal, which gives its young eaters “more sodium than 13 orders of McDonald’s kids fries.”
  • Sonic Kids’ Jr. Burger Meal slides in third, with a children’s meal containing more sugar than two Twinkies.
  • Burger King comes in fourth. In a contest between six slices of pork bacon and a Hamburger Kids Meal, the two are pretty well tied for cholesterol levels.
  • Denny’s Build Your Own Jr. Grand Slam takes up the rear, topping the government’s recommended intake of sodium at breakfast by 100 milligrams.

Nothing in the report will be shocking news to those who spend any time checking out nutritional content of fast foods on the companies’ Web sites. What the PCRM study does is give parents a handy guide to some of the excesses that are part of even the “healthy” choices these companies market to children and their parents.

Fast-food chains continually battle attempts to regulate how and when they market to kids or how much of the big three — salt, fat and sugar — they pour into their processed foods. They meet any suggestions they might be contributing to obesity and diet-related diseases with righteous indignation.

On the other hand, pressure from the health sector and a more health-conscious public is nudging them slowly in healthier directions. So what is your take? Are you a consumer wanting to make more demands on the fast-food industry? Does your family dine in these chains several times a week or only occasionally? Are the “healthy” meals the chains offer to children really healthy? Does it matter?

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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47 comments

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8:40AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

definitely not shocking info

6:01PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

Thanks for the post.

7:45AM PDT on Sep 23, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

9:56AM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Eating fast food is never the "healthier" option, and it is NOT the cheaper option. Get a meal at mcdonalds for 3 and you are looking at $15 to $20. I can buy a lb of rice, a lb of any type of beans, lettuce, tomatoes and bread plus more with that. However the Occasional treat won't kill a child. Just make smart choices and make eating out the exception to the rule

1:32PM PDT on Jun 18, 2012

ALL FAST FOOD IS BAD FOR YOUR KIDS THANKS

9:57PM PDT on Jun 17, 2012

Thanks.

4:11AM PDT on Jun 16, 2012

in regards to the comment of fast food being cheaper than healthy food...well, thank the fast food giants for the $1 menu. produce and veggies in grocery stores are high...instead go to your local farmers market. it's summer, many farmers are selling along the road. plan your menus...eliminate high fat, processed foods. get back in the kitchen. and yes, potatoes, rice, beans and eggs are cheap and offer a wide array of meal options.

3:49AM PDT on Jun 16, 2012

I doubt it

5:36PM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

Probably not.

3:02PM PDT on Jun 15, 2012

ty

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
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