When McDonald’s announced that it was making over its Happy Meal last year to be healthier, I was unimpressed. I’m not the only one. That Happy Meal, along with four other fast-food meals aimed at children, have made the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s report of the Five Worst “Healthy” Fast-Food Kids Meals.


One of the reasons McDonald’s Cheeseburger Happy Meal made the list was because the entire meal contains “more sodium than 13 orders of McDonald’s kids fries.” That’s a little ironic, because one of the changes McDonald’s made to its Happy Meals to make them healthier was to reduce the sodium by 20 percent.


The other kids' meals that made the list come from various fast-food chains.


  • Chick-fil-A Kids Grilled Nuggets Meal – Contains the same amount of cholesterol as a Big Mac.
  • Sonic Kids’ Jr. Burger Meal – Contains more sugar than two Twinkies.
  • Burger King Hamburger Kids' Meal – Contains almost as much cholesterol as six slices of pork bacon.
  • Denny’s Build Your Own Jr. Grand Slam – Contains almost 100 more milligrams of sodium than the government recommends children consume at breakfast.

Most of these meals have options to change the fries to apple slices or the sodas to milk, and those are good changes, but when you look at the meal as a whole, they are still not healthy. Parents need to realize and accept that small “healthier” changes do not equal an entire meal that is healthy. With this understanding, they can make smarter choices because they know the truth, not just the marketing hype. 


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

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