Five Fast-Food Kids’ Meals That Are Terrifyingly Unhealthy

Remember last year when all those fast food chains said they were going to make kids' meals healthier? Um...yeah. That didn't happen.

Photo courtesy McDonald's

You may or may not remember that at exactly this time last year the National Restaurant Association launched a healthy-eating initiative called Kids LiveWell. The voluntary program, which at first included 19 restaurant brands and now includes over 50, compels participants to offer healthier options for kids.

More specifically, according to the program’s website, kids’ meals are supposed to be 600 calories or less (inclusive of an entree, side and beverage); contain two or more servings fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and/or low-fat dairy; and limit salt, fat and sugar to some very specific proportions.

The original restaurants that signed on to the campaign included Burger King, Cracker Barrel and Corner Bakery Cafe. Now the list includes the likes of Chick-fil-A, Boston Market, Denny’s and Sonic. Although fast food’s grand poobah, McDonald’s, isn’t a participant, it, too, announced last July that it would make kids meals healthier.

Fast forward a year. Washington-based advocacy group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine decided to see how some fast food chains are doing on the kids’ health front. Turns out, er … not so well.

“It isn’t a healthy meal if the cheeseburger’s still on the plate,” said PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin in a statement. “Fast food companies are trying to pull the wool over parents’ eyes by adding apple slices to a fat-loaded meal.”

I think she’s right. Check out these pretty terrifying findings.

In terms of cold, hard numbers, here’s how each meal breaks down:

Chick-fil-A Kids Grilled Nuggets Kids Meal
Includes: Six grilled nuggets, waffle potato fries, and low-fat chocolate milk
Nutrition facts: 570 calories, 19 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,150 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of sugars

McDonald’s Cheeseburger Happy Meal
Includes: Cheeseburger, fries, apple slices, and low-fat white milk
Nutrition facts: 520 calories, 20 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 920 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of sugars

Sonic Kids’ Jr. Burger Meal
Includes: Jr. Burger, apple slices with fat-free caramel dipping sauce, and apple juice
Nutrition facts: 550 calories, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 715 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of sugar

Burger King’s Hamburger Kids Meal
Includes: Hamburger, fat-free milk, and apple slices
Nutrition facts: 380 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 615 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of sugars

Denny’s Build Your Own Jr. Grand Slam
Includes: Egg whites, two slices of turkey bacon, hash browns, and orange juice
Nutrition facts: 332 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 570 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of sugars