Fast food chains are a popular destination for families in the US. The kiddie menu offers parents a peace of mind that a child will eat her meal. Unfortunately, just like the adult food, the children’s options are full of salt, fat, and sugar. With childhood obesity on the rise, this is an area of concern for most parents.
With the grown-up menu, one can usually find a healthy option such as a salad to work with. Kids menus don’t provide a plethora of choices, and therefore consign children to unhealthy food. In a recent report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), 97% of fast food children’s meals were found to be unfit nutritionally.
CSPI is considered a villain by many in the food industry, so one may dismiss their findings as alarmist. But here’s the kicker – even according to the restaurant industry’s more relaxed nutrition recommendations for kids, 91% of kids’ meals don’t make the grade.
The reasons are mostly the same across all chains – french fries full of fat, burgers and pizzas loaded with saturated fats and sodium, and candy in a glass (aka soft drinks) dominate the preschool fast food menu landscape. Not to mention very high calorie counts.
The one standout is Subway, which does not provide soft drinks as an option in its children’s menu, rather water or low fat milk. Subway doesn’t sell fries either…
What parents can do:
1. Order the kiddie meal, but fill up with water instead of soda.
2. Get the least unhealthy adult option and share among your children.
3. Limit fast food outings to rare occasions that are not necessarily celebrations.
4. Check out what your local supermarket has to offer. Many today have a wide variety of deli options and include some sit down space.
How do you deal with fast food when it comes to your children?