Should A Kid's Meal Have 973 Calories?

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 []


Edit Your Comment

  1. KyleOrton says:

    The Subway Veggie Delite has no source of protein so I personally don’t think it’s the “best” just lowest in calories. I’d rather add a few calories and some turkey.

  2. balthisar says:

    Why is simply the amount of calories “the worst”? It’s easy to offset the calories later by simply not ingesting them later. They almost were on the right track talking about saturated fats, but mentioned them only once and then ignored them for the rest of the article.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      973 is about half the caloric intake for children (ranges from 1600-2200 between ages 5-16). Reducing calories elsehwere in the day isn’t so easy, even for an adult.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        …so if you assume a small breakfast and a not quite as small lunch, then eating 900 kcal at dinner is not entirely out of line. Of course the real problem is 900 calories of what exactly? It’s McDonalds. It doesn’t matter how much or how little of it there is. It’s all going to be crap. Fixating on the “bigness of the childrens meal” really is distracting yourself from the real issues.

        No part of that meal should be consumed by someone that isn’t very active physically and capable of burning off any dietary abuse they inflict upon themselves.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      Easily offset? What world are you living in? Try feeding a kid breakfast, a 973 calorie lunch, and then offset his supper. I don’t think they would be too happy with an apple and milk for supper.

      Have you noticed that it takes an incredible amount of willpower for most adults to eat healthy? Why do you think it would be easier for a kid?

      • balthisar says:

        >>Have you noticed that it takes an incredible amount of willpower for most adults to eat healthy? Why do you think it would be easier for a kid?

        Well, no. I work amonst college-educated people, not in the ghetto, so amongst my sample group, nearly 100% of people eat healthfully. There’s always the corn-fed outlier, though.

        >>Why do you think it would be easier for a kid?

        Because they have parents who can control them. Unless they have bad parents who refuse to control them.

        Look, calories in and of themselves aren’t bad.

        • kennedar says:

          Yea most college educated people I know, including myself, have a tough time eating healthy. Thats not to say that it is impossible, simply difficult. Even things that you think are healthy really are not. A good example would be a whole grain wrap with deli sliced turkey, small amount of low fat salad dressing and lots of veggies. Not including cheese, this has almost 300 calories, but over 750 mg of salt, more than half the recommended daily intake. Yet most people would consider it a healthy option.

          Eating well is not as easy as it seems. While people who live in poverty do tend to have worse eating habits, it is generally not because they do not know better. The cost of eating well makes it almost impossible for some people to afford. If you have to choose between a roof over your head or eating organic vegetables most people are going to chose the former,

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          Skinny people live in Ghettos too ya know. Now trailer parks, whoaa fatties.

          And your college educated buddies, may not be fat yet. I know tons of fatties that are college educated. just because you could stay awake through some classes doesn’t make you any more intelligent than anybody else.

      • lordargent says:

        Back in my days, kids were active, active people burn more calories.

        If I ate now the way I ate when I was 10, I would gain weight. But when I was 10, I was skinny as hell.

        /and when I was a teenager running track, forget about it

      • RvLeshrac says:

        Here’s what I ate when I was a kid: What my parents gave me.

        If I didn’t want to eat what I was given, I didn’t get anything to eat.

  3. dgm says:

    Should the government really be telling us what we can eat, or coercing private businesses to alter their menus?

    I don’t think so.

    Should they be required to provide, at consumer request, basic information about the nutritional content of their food?


    • agtwork says:

      Additionally, we should be made aware of what those nutritional facts mean by making nutrition an educational requirement for graduation from highschool and college.

    • Hoboman725 says:


    • denros says:

      “Should the government really be telling us what we can eat, or coercing private businesses to alter their menus?”

      If the government won’t, who will? Serious question. I’m not saying the government should. But someone should be. Ideally it would be consumers, but I have my doubts there.

      • ARP says:

        To add to the complexity. Obesity is a huge problem in the country and it costs all of us money.

        1) Lost employee productivity due to doctor’s appointments and illness
        2) Emergency room visits
        3) Higher health care costs (under a private or public system- anything that pools risk)
        4) Medicare, SS, etc. payments

        So, these companies meal choices cost you money. BTW- I agree with your argument, but I wondering at what point do we (government) have to step in for the welfare of the rest.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          All in the name of productivity and reducing societal costs, right?

          Would you like the government to also tell you what profession you will be working in? After all, if the government is better at deciding what you should eat, then why not where you should work? Think of all those people working in professions that they’re not very good at, but stick it out because the pay is good. They should be moved…

          • dolemite says:

            Divorce rate is pretty high. Like 50%? I think people do a bad job of choosing their mates. Perhaps the government could subject us all to a battery of tests and tell us who to marry? Some people make unfit parents too…perhaps the same tests could tell us if we should be sterilized when married, to make sure we don’t have children. Also…some people are poor drivers…perhaps the government….

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Government doesn’t tell us what we should eat to be healthy. Scientific research does. He’s actually just asking the government to enforce what science has determined.

            It’s not quite the same as saying you want the government to tell me what to eat.

          • Michaela says:

            Is it possible for you to argue your point WITHOUT a fallacy?

          • Kavatar says:

            So slippery!

        • Southern says:

          LOTS of things cost us money. Auto Accidents cost us money (and deaths) in terms of higher insurance rates. How about if you’re found guilty of causing an auto accident, you lose your driving privileges for, say, 5 years?

          By that same token, people that build houses on the beach, or within half a mile or so of the ocean KNOW they’re going to get hit by a hurricane at SOME point, I think the government should ban any building on or near any beach/water so that the insurance companies don’t have to pay out billions of dollars that WE have to repay in higher premiums.

          Gee.. Hmm.. How many other ways can we save money by keeping the public from living the way they want to? I’m sure between all of us, we could come up with HUNDREDS of examples.

          • obits3 says:

            “so that the insurance companies don’t have to pay out”

            There are places in Galveston, TX that are uninsurable for that reason. The invisible backhand of the market at work ;)

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        How about this radical idea…

        The eatery should give us nutritional facts, forced by the government if that is what it takes. But from there on…


        Why do we NEED anyone to make these decisions for us? If I want help, I’ll ask for it. I like eating Fried Chicken. I know its not the healthiest, but damn it I like it.

        • ARP says:

          Because it costs you actual money under any healthcare system. This “I’ve got mine, I can do what I want” attitude doesn’t work in an economically interconnected society. We’re not living in frontier times anymore, despite the Libertarian surgence.

          I actually agree with the original post, but I think this general attitude is outdated, simplistic, and unrealistic in modern society.

          • TuxthePenguin says:

            True, this sort of thing would have societal costs. But what are the costs associated with the government issuing these edicts? Obviously they would need commissions to research this… but all that money would be wasted without some means to enforce these edicts.

            So now we’re talking about some sort of food police. Or shutting down eateries that aren’t “healthy” enough – which means we have lost productivity and unemployment of their workers. Or force them to change their menus to other items, meaning certain items will go up in demand, shortages…

            The “make your own decisions and live with them” isn’t outdated – it works perfectly in today’s society. I, personally, would rather freedom than security. Easily freedom over security.

          • George4478 says:

            It works just fine. Otherwise, you’re making the case for the government to control EVERYTHING we do, since it all affects someone else somewhere. That excuse can be used for literally every action we take, every thing we ingest, everything we wear or own. Are you willing to give me control over your decisions since they may affect my health care costs?

            “You’re 10% more likely to catch a cold and affect your coworkers, so here’s a $100 fine for not wearing a coat today. Did you take your mandatory Vitamin C or do I need to write you another?”

            “I’d love to serve you the hamburger patty meal, sir, but according to your protein card that’s your third beef meal this week.”

            “I’m sorry, sir. I know cigarettes are legal, but if you insist on smoking outside I’ll have to write you a ticket.” Oh, wait, that bit of never-gonna-happen crazy talk already occurs. Never mind.

        • ARP says:

          Enough with the straw man slippery slope argument. I’m not a Beck watcher.

          I AGREE with the original post, but I’m asking the (somewhat) philosophical question of “at what point SHOULD government get involved?”

          If our reasoning is everyone should be responsible for their own actions, then that line of reasoning has failed at some level, because other’s behavior costs me money. They’re financially hurting me by being unhealthy. If they’re costing me and others money, at what point, can we either stop them, or have them pay more for their poor decisions?

          Also, we’ve already have decided that Food Safety is important and have government requirements on ingredients, labelling, processing, handling etc. Should we abolish all food safety and labelling requirements so people can eat whatever someone will serve? (See, I can make a Straw Man too!)

          Yours and other’s arguments re marriage, professions are partially true, which is why we (government) has made marriage and divorce slightly more difficult than a simple ceremony. We have licensing requirements to get certain jobs, etc.

          Again, I agree with top of this thread (inform, but don’t regulate), but was trying to invite a civil debate about the proper role of government in these situations, not a Fox News, straw man, scream-a-thon.

      • dolemite says:

        Umm…no one? We live in America…land of the free…and all that. No one needs to be telling anyone else how to live, who they can marry, what they can smoke, what they can do in the bedroom. Mind your own business and live your own life. If my neighbor wants to eat himself into oblivion and die at the age of 40, that’s his business.

        • denros says:

          Except, we are told who to marry (opposite sex only), what we can and can’t smoke, and as for the bedroom many states DO regulate that (not in practice, but in law). We regulate many, many things far less harmful than children’s meals. Hell we regulate what can be considered “children’s TV” and what constitutes educational programming.

          More to the point, this wouldn’t stop parents from giving their kids the exact same food as in a happy meal if they wanted to, it would just prevent it from being packaged into a calorie bomb laser-guided via marketing to kids; we do it with advertising already. This isn’t depriving anyone of freedom, except the freedom of corporations to sell our kids a cheap plastic toy and a stupid cardboard box with their food.

    • exconsumer says:

      You’ll have to point out how a study done by a private university constitutes the government telling us to do anything.

      And once you do that, you’ll have to go a step further and tell me that, once the government is done telling us how many calories can go in a happy meal, you’ll have to show how they’ve prevented a child or parent from buying whatever they want from outside the ‘kids meal’ menu.

      Or, hey, you can just think before you speak.

      • Nisun says:


      • SpamDel says:

        Ok, here goes. The Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity ( is focused on influencing public policy (achieved through the government) and lists itself as a primary force behind the push for a soda tax and helping define the government’s “rightful” role in nutrition (, among other things.

        Also, Chris’ opening tie-in referencing San Francisco’s recent law helps the reader draw the connection between research like this and government intervention.

        Universities don’t do studies in this in a vacuum – especially one who lists as it’s primary goal as lobbying for government intervention in nutrition.

        To answer your second question, taxes can “prevent” people from purchasing, or you could go over to NYC’s trans-fat ban.

        Don’t be so angry. Make connections and think things through.

      • dgm says:

        “You’ll have to point out how a study done by a private university constitutes the government telling us to do anything.”

        Actually, no, I won’t have to do any such thing. But thanks for the useless, content-free post.

        “Or, hey, you can just think before you speak.”

        Or, hey, you can just stuff your lousy attitude and snarky post right up your ass.

        The City of San Francisco just banned happy meals. THAT is the government telling us what to eat.

        Studies like these will surely be used as ammunition by overzealous city councils looking for ways to force people to eat differently.

        • quijote says:

          Laws like that force people to eat differently indirectly. They are not laws against eating things. They’re laws against selling things deemed harmful to people’s health. It’s illegal to knowingly sell contaminated food. I think it’s a gray area.

          But you can’t say “The government should stay out of peoples lives, and stop telling them what to do.” That’s all a government exists to do!

        • grebby says:

          The “Happy Meal ban” does not ban the sale of cheeseburgers and fries to anyone, nor does it remove any calories from them. It bans the use of toys to sell fast food. Any kid can still walk in with $4 and get the same meal, he just doesn’t get a Shrek 3D action figure with it. Hey, the government telling us what toys we can play with!

        • Anri says:

          That’s not what this article is about, Mr. Uppity.

          Hey I don’t like Obama. Let’s talk about that now!

    • Sword_Chucks says:

      The problem is then they cut portion size, then people like me who are training for cycling and triathlon races are still starving… you don’t need to be responsible for what I eat, I need to be responsible for what I eat…
      JUST because it is on your plate doesnt mean it needs to get moved to your stomach.

      • chargernj says:

        Or, you could recognize the fact that your average person isn’t training for cycling and triathlon races. So It would not be good business practices to cater your portion sizes to such a small community. Portion sizes ought to reflect an amount that your average reasonable person should eat.

    • kobresia says:

      Sure, if the government is going to use my tax dollars to pay for the obesity-related health complications that people incur.

      The happy meal ban to which you refer is not unlike the government stepping-in and saying that tobacco companies couldn’t continue to use Joe Camel and give away Joe Camel schwag in an attempt to lure younger teens into smoking cigarettes. The government was right to put an end to that form of marketing, and I’d like to see the “no toy bribes may be used to leverage kids into leveraging their parents into buying grossly unhealthy ‘meals’ (I use that term loosely, of course) for them” types of laws nationwide.

      If McDonalds wants to just give away toys to kids, fine. But don’t use toys to leverage young children into poor dietary choices. Delicious lard and grease may not cause the same sorts of chemical addictions as nicotine, but they do cultivate cravings and probably aggravate many compulsive eating behaviors.

  4. nbs2 says:

    So, most places offer a combination of items that can yield low calories or high calories, depending on what you choose. By ignoring the add ons at Subway, they artificially deflated the calories count. And who actually thinks of DQ as a place to get anything other than a Blizzard? I mean, in a pinch…

    Top that off with more than a few folks who get kids meals for older kids or adults, who may be able to better absorb the calorie hit.

  5. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Anything is fine in moderation. Eating a happy meal on a long car trip every once in awhile isn’t going to hurt anyone.

    • Alvis says:

      That’s what I told the judge, but apparently he thinks even a little arson is too much.

    • minjche says:

      This. Moderation is key.

      I got myself a McRib the other day.

    • Groanan says:

      Will you Aristotelians ever drop the moderation mantra? There are multiple alternatives to living a bland life where you only get sweets on your birthday, and spicy foods are a rare treat.

      There is nothing inherently wrong with being fat and happy.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        How about “all things in moderation…including moderation”?

      • therealchriss says:

        You’re eventually going to be a drain on the health care system.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        Why lay off the spices?

        Those aren’t something you need to hide from. Quite the contrary.

        Give those kiddies their own bottle of Tobasco. They might even thank you for it.

  6. minjche says:

    The Subway meal may sound nice, but you do actually need a certain number of calories from a mix of sources (protein, carbs, and fat) just to live through the day.

    • jessjj347 says:

      If you add cheese and switch the bread type, you’ll probably add a bunch of calories.

      • minjche says:

        The key is not just having the right amount of calories (how much energy the human body can get from digesting the food) but also having the proper sources of those calories.

        So yeah I could eat a veggie delite and add a small chocolate cake, and that solves the calorie problem, but it uses fats and carbs as a large source of those calories. Where’s the protein?

      • kennedar says:

        I actually ate this today. It was a 6 inch veggie sub with cheese and sweet onion sauce on whole wheat bread. It has 310 calories, 55 grams of carbs, 10 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat and 610 mg of sodium. I paired it with a banana and water and it was a really tasty and satisfying lunch! All in all, not the healthiest lunch ever, but you could do much worse!

  7. jessjj347 says:

    I think Taco Bell got short changed…If you get bean tacos they’re probably slightly healthy?

    Also, isn’t a grilled cheese more healthy than a burger at Sonic?

    Lastly, why didn’t they just account for water as a drink for the healthiest options?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Because you pay for a soda. The meal comes with soda, not water. They are basing it on what the business is offering, not necessarily what you could do to improve the meal yourself.

  8. Chooi says:

    I’m not sure what kid wants to eat veggies on a slice of bread? Especially with no cheese? Good luck with that.

    • Quixiotic... Yea it's a typo (╯°□°)╯彡┻━┻ says:

      That was my thought, exactly. I can get whatever I want for my kids… Can’t make them eat it. Has to be appealing, even watching me eat a veggie sandwich they would rather have chicken nuggets or the ever popular PB&J

      • thor79 says:

        There are options out there to make the “ever popular PB&J” healthier…sugarless jelly or jam, natural peanut butter, wheat bread. Not perfect, but it is a very good compromise I would use if I had a kid.

  9. SimplyStating says:

    I am guessing that since it is a child. Most have very high metabolisms.. So as long as you ensure your kid stays active these meals are OK sometimes. Stressing SOMETIMES. But hopefully most parents know that Happy Meals shouldn’t be a part of a daily dietary plan. You would hope..

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “So as long as you ensure your kid stays active these meals are OK sometimes.”

      I think that’s what is always ignored with these kind of studies.

      I was a kid of the 70’s and 80’s and we had terrible diets. For breakfast it was some sugary cereal (they didn’t try to hide it back then), lunch we’d have bologna and american cheese w/a cup of Kool Aid (or canned juice) and dinner it was virtually always red meat, potatoes, canned veggies, and a glass of whole milk. Every Sunday, my dad would get a dozen donuts and we’d have pancakes, eggs, and sausage.

      I’m sure our cholesterol suffered but looking back at old photos, nobody was overweight, and most of us looked virtually emaciated. Just look at Jerry O’Connel’s character in Stand by Me — by mid-1980’s standards he was enormous but would be slightly above average today.

      • richcreamerybutter says:

        I’m the same age, and agree to a certain extent. It’s worth noting that the big HFCS switch was implemented by the 1980s, and I think that made a huge difference in subsequent age groups. It also sounds like many of the “dangerous” calories you were consuming were still prepared at home from scratch.

      • ARP says:

        You’re forgetting portion sizes and quality of food (even from the 70’s).

        If you look at an Adult McD’s meal until the 80’s, they were about the same size as a kids Happy meal. Sodas (in bottles or cans) were 12 oz, not 16 or 24. So, its more than just excercise.

        The quality of food has been declining, even from some of the nasty stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. It’s more processed, there’s more HFCS, etc.

      • Southern says:

        Back before the widespread use of HFCS.. Hmm.. Interesting……… :-)

      • catlike says:

        Very true. Growing up in the 70s, I was the fat kid. I was ridiculed and all of the other kids ranged from really skinny to normal skinny. Now I tell people how much I weighed or look at pictures of myself and by comparison, I’m not much bigger than the average kid now. The fat kid has been, uh, supersized.

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    “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”

    “DQ’s meal with a cheeseburger, French fries, Mountain Dew and a chocolate Dilly Bar”

    So subway doesn’t have chips, soda and cookies? Or I can’t get a milk at DQ, or a diet soda or leave out the fries.

    This study seems to be comparing apples to bananas to oranges.

    • Geekmom says:

      It’s kids meals, a kid isn’t picking a diet coke for a drink.
      Though you are right it is a crock, and Subway does offer soda as an option for kids meals.

      What kid is going to pick the wheat bread and plain raw veggie sandwich? If said kid exists, is it part goat?

      • Blueskylaw says:

        That’s one of the problems in this study. They are comparing kids meals to non-kids meals.
        The subway sandwich normally comes with cheese but they left it off, but they couldn’t ask for the cheeseburger with no cheese, or pick mountain dew instead of another drink or diet soda, or buying a chocolate Dilly Bar when you just had a full meal but didn’t buy the cookie and chips separately from subway to compliment the meal like the Dilly bar did?

        This study is so full of fail I wouldn’t be surprised if it was sponsored by
        Doctor’s Associates (Subway).

        • lihtox says:

          The summary makes it pretty clear that they made a list of all the kids’ meals from all the restaurants, and the “best” one turned out to be from Subway while the worst one turned out to be from Dairy Queen. It’s true that you can’t compare Subway and DQ on these two meals. However, the article says that the worst Subway meal is actually still pretty healthy (presumably said meal would include chips or cookies), while the best DQ meal wasn’t all that good (having 628 calories).

          Personally, though, I would rate the BK mac-n-cheese meal as the best meal, as it has the same number of calories as the Subway Veggie Delite meal, and it’s actually something most kids would eat. If my daughter was given the latter, she’d actually eat fewer than 285 calories, as she’d toss out the veggies and just eat the bread. (No offense to Subway, which I actually like.)

      • Southern says:

        It’s kids meals, a kid isn’t picking a diet coke for a drink.

        You’re right.. The parent (ME) picks milk, or juice. No soda.

  11. dolemite says:

    People act like kids need special caloric requirements. If anything, an active kid needs MORE calories than most adults.

    As a child, I could literally eat 4,000 calories in a day and I was rail thin. Because I actually played outside and was active.

    If I ate your nasty 285 calorie subway “meal” (heh more like a snack), my stomach would be growling in around 1 hour, and my parents would have been out of $5.

    • scoopie77 says:

      And when you’re hungry, that’s when you go looking for junk food to fill up.

    • UnicornMaster says:

      To your point, I don’t think ADULT meals should contain 973 calories.

    • MB17 says:

      You’re right, but those calories need to contain, you know, actual nutrition. What vitamins and mineral requirements are kids fulfilling with a happy meal? Empty calories.

  12. u1itn0w2day says:

    I think by trying to control what kids eat with calories will wind up taking away other much needed nutrients. The intent is good but sorry lack of exercise/activity is kids is a problem. Exercise will speed up the metabolism which will help the kids absorb more of the meal. You don’t want to create a nation of kids that becomes obsessed with a foods numericial value rather than it’s actual nutritional value and/or purpose.

    Anorexia or Obesity. Hopefully a choice is made in the middle.

  13. Das G says:

    Good luck getting kids to eat a veggie sandwich on wheat.

  14. scoopie77 says:

    No kid is going to be happy with a veggie delight. You’ve got to be kidding me. Plus, kids need protein.

  15. fortymegafonzies says:

    Why don’t they ever offer a comparison to a typical non-fast food meal? Here’s one: PB&J sandwich 300cal, small serving of chips 150cal, small glass of skim milk 100cal …total 550 calories (and quite a bit of fat, though mostly unsaturated) for typical homemade kid’s lunch.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      That just proves the government needs to write your child’s menus for you. Government knows what’s best.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Kids have always been fed cheap crap. It’s just that now if they move they are given drugs for hyperactivity or arrested for disorderly conduct

  16. u1itn0w2day says:

    Even for adults diet really should be dependent of charts or calories counts. Nor in reality should every meal be turned into a Hollywood movie production.

    As someone who has gone weeks without power after a natural disaster when you can’t refrigerate or cook (unless you have natural or propane gas) food dependent on alot of preparation and/or controlled storage is something everyone shouldn’t be reliant on. Survival should be the priority and not magazine cover ideals. By telling kids they are only allowed a certain number of calories they’ll be at loss not just during a disaster and when they simply don’t have the time or access to complex meals as to control their calorie count. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

  17. slim150 says:

    While I agree you shouldn’t let your kid get to 250 lbs.. When else in life can you eat junk food? I mean do you want to start giving them prostate exams too?

  18. csobolewski says:

    Absolutely they should!

    I take my kid out for fast food as a very occasional treat. And trust me, my daughter will burn those calories in no time flat.

    I think the real question is should 84% of parents have fed their kids fast food in the last week? (

    The answer to that, of course, is a resounding NO.

  19. kmw2 says:

    The concern on these meals isn’t the kids who occasionally get even the biggest of them as a treat – it’s that 84% of American kids get fast food at least once a week. And yes, while adults can “offset” a big lunch by skipping dinner, that’s harder with kids. It’s just really not a healthy way to eat.

  20. bruce9432 says:

    Then good god, close all Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors, or have them card all customers to prove they are of age. Just butter fat and sugar. A skull and crossbones in neon should be out front of all stores

  21. Outrun1986 says:

    Restaurant meals are still probably worse than all of this, and use mostly the same ingredients, especially for the chains like Perkins, Appplebee’s etc where kids usually end up.. The food is just as bad as fast food restaurants, if not worse. If you are going to take your kid to a restaurant, you are probably better off heading to McD’s and getting the Kids Meal.

    If your kid is used to eating 900 calorie meals and you feed your kid a 285 calorie meal and they are hungry an hour later… its not helping much either since the parent will likely feed them again as soon as they start whining about being hungry. You are probably better off feeding them either a 6 inch sub with american cheese and a no fat dressing, which there are a lot to choose from or the kids meal that includes a similar sandwich. Just avoid the bottles of chocolate milk, which have nearly 300 calories and a ton of fat, I am not sure if they still serve those though. There are quite a few subs that come out to be low in fat but still include meat or chicken. This way they won’t be whining in an hour for more food and they are getting something with nutrition.

    There is really no excuse here, if you want to feed your kid Subway, there is a Subway EVERYWHERE, at least here. I am serious too, you are probably no more than 10 min away from a Subway no matter where you are in my general area, they are even more frequent than McD’s. This takes care of the problem of my kids have nothing to eat and they are hungry NOW, instead of going to McD’s, go to subway.

    The taco bell items I have eaten have varied widely, and I am guessing the kids meals come out bad because they include cinnamon twists which are fried and have a lot of fat (and don’t really fill you up). However there are other choices on the menu you could pick that would be satisfactory for a child. I order the chicken burrito at Taco bell and at one location they put a ton of chicken and cheese on it, and at another location it will be like 1 teaspoon of stuff inside and you are pretty much eating the shell. I can’t imagine both versions of the same item have the same amount of calories, since one contains a lot less than the other.

  22. Vulpine says:

    Question: At only 283 calories, where are the kids going to get the energy to be a kid? If you’re trying to put them on a diet, this is probably a good thing, but young kids need to fuel their playtime, and at 283 calories per meal, they’re going to run out of gas fast.

  23. sopmodm14 says:

    i try to stay away from fast food, especially around kids, after all you set an example

  24. jariten says:

    What an awful study.

    The discrepencies are huge. One example: Apparently unsweetened tea is ok to include in some kids meals but not others? It’s like comparing apples to elephants.

    The only thing that can be gathered is feeding your kids a giant pile of crap will have lots of calories and fat and is bad for them…that goes squarely in the ‘no shit’ catagory. Hopefully this insight wasn’t funded by a tax-payer funded grant.

  25. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Depends on the kid. Why, as a young lad I myself used to consume 2 sandwiches BEFORE eating a full dinner. Of course, I was on the swim team at the time and burned calories like a 17-ton blast furnace.

    If the kid sits on his ass all day, no, it’s probably not a good idea.

  26. CBenji says:

    Wow, when both of my girls were small they never ate an entire happy meal, or wherever they went and they never had a problem with their weight. I tend to wonder how many people can get their kids to eat a veggie delight sub? Now for the last eleven years my daughter has been a vegetarian, but still she wasn’t one when she was three.

  27. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Fat or thin, eating foods high in calories or fat and low in nutrition isn’t HEALTHY. Kids are growing and developing and need extra nutrition. They don’t need a lot of junky crap that has empty calories, no vitamins, etc.

    I’m tempted by the Subway kid’s meal, myself. I can’t eat a whole adult value meal and often order the kid’s cheeseburger Happy Meal with apples and milk if I have to go to McD’s.

  28. hush404 says:

    Have you seen the nutrition information for a dilly bar? That’s prob most of the calories right there. Also, I’ve purchased kids meals at dairy queen with apple juice or milk…. soz… what’s with the Mt Dew being the healthy drink :S

    Lastly… it shouldn’t be rocket science that deep-fried chicken or cheeseburgers contain more calories than a veggie sandwich on whole wheat… I mean really.