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Not-So-Happy Meals: McDonald's Tops List of Worst Fast-Food Kids Meals

With 840 calories, 37 grams of fat, and about as much sodium as a child should consume in an entire day, McDonald’s Mighty Kids Meal has topped a list of the five most unhealthful fast-food meals marketed to children. The list, based on analysis by PCRM dietitians, also includes meals from Wendy’s, KFC, and A&W, as well as Burger King’s just-released BK Kids Breakfast Meal.

All five of these worst fast-food kids meals are high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. None would meet the nutritional standards for healthful children’s lunches set forward last year by the prestigious Institute of Medicine. Fast-food kids meals are heavily marketed: Children now see more fast-food ads on television than ever before, according to a recent University of Illinois study.

“Kids shouldn’t have to dodge cholesterol bombs packaged in colorful, toy-filled boxes,” says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “We’re losing the war against childhood obesity, but fast-food chains are still making obscene profits by targeting children with high-fat meals.”

The report received coverage on dozens of TV stations around the country, including outlets in Boston, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. The report was also tweeted by Deanna Daughtry, spouse of Chris Daughtry, the former American Idol finalist who formed the band Daughtry.

Here are the five most unhealthful kids meals, ranked from worst to least bad:

Rank

Five Worst Fast-Food Kids Meals

Nutritional Profile

Worst

McDonald’s Mighty Kids Meal:
Double Cheeseburger, french fries, and chocolate milk

840 calories; 37 grams of fat

2nd
Worst

Wendy’s Kids’ Meal:
Chicken Sandwich, french fries, and chocolate Frosty

770 calories; 34 grams of fat

3rd
Worst

KFC Kids Meal: Popcorn chicken, potato wedges, string cheese, and soda

800 calories; 1,800 milligrams of sodium

4th
Worst

A&W Kids Meal: Cheeseburger, french fries, and soda

780 calories; 9 grams of saturated fat

5th
Worst

Burger King’s BK Kids: Breakfast muffin sandwich meal

95 milligrams of cholesterol; exceeds recommended limit on sodium intake for child’s breakfast

A report this month from researchers at the College of William & Mary found that children who live near or attend schools close to fast-food restaurants are more likely to be obese. In a trend driven by the obesity epidemic, an estimated one in three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To read the complete report, visit PCRM.org/Health.




Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.


PCRM Online, September 2010

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