Last year, top fast-food chains including McDonald's and Burger King announced plans to make kids meals healthier. Nearly a year after those announcements, nutrition experts with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) evaluated kids meals from these and other fast-food restaurants and found that many are still loaded with fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
PCRM found that most so-called "healthful" kids meals are still alarmingly high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Here are the five worst "healthy" fast-food kids meals:
1. Chick-fil-A Kids Grilled Nuggets Kids Meal
Six grilled nuggets, waffle potato fries, and low-fat chocolate milk
570 calories, 19 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,150 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of sugars
Earlier this year, Chick-fil-A added grilled chicken nuggets to its kids meals menu, touting them as a "healthier" alternative to fried chicken nuggets. But the grilled chicken nuggets alone contribute 840 milligrams of sodium. And combined with low-fat chocolate milk and waffle potato fries, this meal is also loaded with fat and cholesterol.
2. McDonald's Cheeseburger Happy Meal
Cheeseburger, fries, apple slices, and low-fat white milk
520 calories, 20 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 920 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of sugars
McDonald's announced last year that it would make its kids meals more healthful. But McDonald's Cheeseburger Happy Meal won't make anybody's heart happy. The cheeseburger is loaded with unhealthful fat and cholesterol, which contribute to childhood obesity.
3. Sonic Kids' Jr. Burger Meal
Jr. Burger, apple slices with fat-free caramel dipping sauce, and apple juice
550 calories, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 715 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of sugars
This meal contains more sugar than two Twinkies. The caramel dipping sauce may be fat-free, but it's loaded with sugar. The consumption of added sugars, which are sweeteners added to processed and prepared foods, has been associated with measures of cardiovascular disease risk among adolescents, including adverse cholesterol concentrations, according to a new report from the CDC.
4. Burger King's Hamburger Kids Meal
Hamburger, fat-free milk, and apple slices
380 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 615 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of sugars
This meal features a cholesterol-laden hamburger as the entrée. Adding apple slices to the meal helped Burger King qualify for the Kids LiveWell program, but the meal contains 40 milligrams of cholesterol-almost as much as six slices of pork bacon.
5. Denny's Build Your Own Jr. Grand Slam
Egg whites, two slices of turkey bacon, hash browns, and orange juice
332 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 570 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of sugars
This breakfast contains almost 100 more milligrams of sodium than the IOM recommends children should consume at breakfast. The two pieces of turkey bacon in this meal are processed meat. Consuming processed meats increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, according a 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.