If you think that ordering a Fast Food kids meal might save you on calories, fat and salt because it is smaller, think again.
A non profit public health group released a study highlighting kids fast food choices. Over all, parents are left with very few healthy choices. Nearly every possible combination of the children's meals at Taco Bell, Jack in the Box Sonic, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Chick-fil-A are too high in calories, the report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest said. Fast food restaurants are included.
Examining the nutritional content of kids meals at 13 major restaurant chains, the center found 93 percent of 1,474 possible choices at the 13 chains exceed 430 calories, an amount that is one-third of what the National Institute of Medicine recommends that children ages 4 through 8 should consume in a day.
For example, Chili's Bar and Grill, including Chili's, has 700 possible kids' meal combinations, but 94 percent, or 658, of those are too high in calories. One Chili's meal composed of country-fried chicken crispers, cinnamon apples and chocolate milk contained 1,020 calories, while another composed of cheese pizza, homestyle fries, and lemonade contained 1,000 calories.
The "Big Kid's" Meal at Burger King has a double cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk at 910 calories, and Sonic's have a "Wacky Pack" with 830 calories worth of grilled cheese, fries, and a slushie. There are healthy choices, but parents have to really be aware of the true amount of calories and salt that the foods contain. The report also found that 45 percent of children's meals exceed recommendations for saturated and trans fat, which can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease, and 86 percent of children's meals are high in sodium.
Applebee's, TGIFriday's, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and IHOP, weren't included in the report because they do not disclose nutrition information about their meals even when asked, the center said. Wendy's, Arby's, Dairy Queen, and Denny's were also in the report.
The report recommends that all restaurants start including more fruit and vegetables, whole grain foods, and reformulate all meals to have fewer calories, saturated and trans fat, and salt, with choices like fruit and vegetables and low fat milk the default sides instead of French Fries and soda.
It was suggested that restaurants add nutrition information on boards and on menus. New York and San Francisco are among the cities and localities that have adopted menu labeling policies. Hopefully Fast Food Restaurants will follow suit.
Zach Hunt is a Fast Food expert, personal trainer and owner of Physzique, a fitness coaching service in Spokane, WA. Go here: www.spokanefitnesscoach.com for more free tips on fast food.