McDonald’s may be the fast food chain most are associating with the recently approved kid’s meal regulations in San Francisco, but when it comes to calories in meals targeted to youngsters, the Golden Arches is nowhere near the worst.
As part of the new Yale University study that looked into the kid’s meal phenomenon, researchers looked at 8 major fast food chains — McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, KFC, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Subway — that offer the youth-targeted meals and ranked the best and worst offerings from each.
The restaurant that came out the best was Subway, whose Veggie Delite sandwich (on wheat bread, no cheese), paired with apple slices and 100% juice, ranked as the top fast food meal for kids, with only 285 calories and 0 calories from saturated fat.
Additionally, researchers were unable to pick a “worst” Subway kid’s meal, saying, “”They only offer milk and 100 percent juice, and they have apples and yogurt as sides. And their sandwiches are all pretty low in fat.”
Meanwhile, none of Taco Bell’s kid’s meals met the researchers criteria to be labeled as a “healthy option.”
But it wasn’t Taco Bell that had the highest calorie meal. That honor went to my former employer, Dairy Queen. DQ’s meal with a cheeseburger, French fries, Mountain Dew and a chocolate Dilly Bar totaled up to 973 calories with 171 calories coming from saturated fat. The Queen’s best offering — chicken strips, applesauce, Sprite and vanilla cone — didn’t fare so well either, with 628 calories.
Of the burger chains in the study, Burger King had the healthiest kid’s meal offering — macaroni and cheese, apple “fries” (without caramel sauce), fat-free milk — with only 285 calories. Sonic’s two chicken strips with ranch sauce, French fries and green apple slush tallied up 708 calories, making it the worst kid’s meal at a burger chain (even though it’s not a burger).
On average, the best kid’s meals at the 8 eateries came out to 389 calories, while the worst meals averaged 608 calories.
Best and Worst Fast Food Kids’ Meals [USnews.com]