High Calorie Kid's Meals
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

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High Calorie Kid's Meals

The Center for Science in the Public Interest released a report this week on the food offered on children's menus at 13 major chain restaurants.

Shocking results
  • 93% of the choices exceeded the recommended calories for children aged 4-8
  • 45% exceeded saturated fat levels
  • 86% exceeded sodium levels
Some of the worst were:
  • Burger King Big Kids meal with double cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake had 910 calories
  • KFC's Laptop Meal of popcorn chicken, baked beans, a biscuit, Teddy Grahams and fruit punch had 940 calories
  • Chili's chicken crispers, cinnamon apples, and chocolate milk had 1,020 calories
  • Sonic's grilled cheese, fries, and slushie had 830 calories

Not all news was dim, though. Subway offers a mini-sub, a juice box, and either apple slices, yogurt, or raisins. Most of their combos comes in below the 430 calories (1/3 of recommended calories for kids aged 4-8).

What should parents do?
  1. Consider trying to cook/eat at home more often. Studies show that kids eat less calories and more fruits and vegetables when they eat at home.
  2. If you are eating out, print out the caloric content of food items from restaurant websites before you leave home and review with your children.
  3. If you do want fries, get one order for the whole family and split it.
  4. Choose the apple slices, applesauce, carrot sticks, water, and reduced fat milk. We 'vote' for what we want at restaurants with what we purchase. Restaurants are not going to offer healthier options if we don't start buying them!
  5. Many of the calories in these menus come from sugared beverages. Offer your children water, unsweet tea, or reduced fat milk instead of soft drinks.
  6. Introduce foods other than hamburgers, pizza, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and french fries to your children. Encourage them to try new foods. Share your meal and don't always order from the children's menu.
Photo courtesy of Reuters
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Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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