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Health & Parenting

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Healthy Fast Food for Kids a Tall Order?

Watchdog Group Finds Most Kids' Fast Food Meals Are Unhealthy, but Industry Contends Healthy Choices Exist

Kids' Fast Food Meals: Healthier Choices

Some meals did meet the CSPI's nutritional criteria. Among the options:

  • Subway's ham mini sub with juice box and apple slices or raisins; roast beef mini sub and juice box with any side, including apple slices or raisins or yogurt; turkey mini sub and juice box with apples slices or raisins or yogurt
  • Chili's grilled chicken sandwich with apple juice and corn kernels (or mandarin oranges or pineapple)
  • Denny's pancakes without meat, with maple syrup; macaroni and cheese, and grapes
  • Arby's popcorn chicken or junior roast beef sandwich with fruit cup and fruit juice

Kids' Fast Food Meals: Industry Responds

Spokespeople from the fast food industry say they do offer healthful options for young diners and are trying to improve the offerings even more.

"KFC is proud to offer a variety of Kids Meals for those looking for lower-calorie, lower-fat options," Rick Maynard, a company spokesman, says in an email interview. He says that some kids' meals at KFC do offer less than 430 calories, such as a meal of two crispy strips, green beans, Teddy Grahams, and a diet drink, which totals 380 calories.

In a statement, Heather Krasnow, a spokeswoman for Burger King, says they offer nutritionally healthy choices, such as the kids' meal launched this summer -- macaroni and cheese, fresh apple fries, and Hershey's 1% low fat milk. It totals 315 calories, according to the nutrition guide on the company web site.

The trend among restaurants is to offer consumers more choices and nutritional information, says Mike Donohue, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association. "A 2007 consumer survey [conducted by the association] showed that four out of five customers said there were more healthy options available and more food choices available than there were two years earlier."

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