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Reality Bites in Kids’ Fast Food Meals

Reality Bites in Kids’ Fast Food Meals

When Eddie (John C. Reilly) from the animated hit film Sing croons, “Can I get a Happy Meal with big nuggets?” and Johnny (Taron Egerton) the gorilla and Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and her piglet clan chime in with “We got the Happy Meal,” we’re thinking, not so much!

According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the Kids LiveWell program, launched in 2011 by restaurant chains that pledged to upgrade the nutritional content of their kids’ meals, has done a belly flop!

Kids LiveWell standards say a meal (entree, side dish and beverage) should have a maximum 600 calories, with less than 10 percent from sat fat, and less than 35 percent from sugars (natural and added). Side dishes are limited to 200 calories or less with the same percentage of fat and sugar. But when Harvard researchers looked at 45 chain restaurants they found 15 of the restaurants participating in the Kids LiveWell program weren’t dishing up food that had any healthier levels of calories, sat fat or sodium than the other 30 non-participating restaurant chains. Plus, sugary drinks still make up 80 percent of the so-called healthy beverage choices!

If you really want your kids to eat well, before your next on-the-go meal, check out the info at http://menustat.org/#/home. That’s where the researchers got their data. Then put together a meal that will make your kids healthy and happy. Your choices count and can give restaurants a reason to actually provide, not just advertise, LiveWell meals.

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

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