Study: Only 3 Percent of Kids Fast Food Meals Are Healthy

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It’s not often that the so-called food cops have kind words for the fast-food industry, but there are a few of them in a new report on the offerings from restaurants such as McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell — and how they are marketed to kids.


A new report on fast food for kids and teens praises McDonald’s for reducing French fry portions and adding apple slices to all Happy Meals. (Credit: Associated Press)

Eleven out of 12 of the restaurants with kids’ meals had at least one option for a side dish that the Rudd Center considered “healthy,” such as sliced apples, bananas, fruit cups, applesauce, green beans, corn or salads (yes, there are three types of salads for kids at Panera Bread). In addition, more than three-quarters of the restaurants offered a healthy drink choice, usually unflavored milk, 100% juice or bottled water.

McDonald’s got a special shout-out for changing its Happy Meal menu to include only a half-serving of French fries and adding sliced apples. And Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell, Arby’s and Jack in the Box were commended for having main dish items that didn’t go overboard on calories, saturated fat or sodium.

Analysts from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity – a leading proponent of efforts to remove sugary drinks from schools and impose a sin tax on sodas, among other initiatives – analyzed the menu offerings from 18 fast-food chains. They considered all the possible combinations of main dishes, sides and drinks – for a total of 5,427 possible meals.

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