The Kids Menu Is Never Healthy EVER

girl french fryAhem, fast food chains of America: It's great that you're now offering healthier meal options for kids. Really. I mean, hey, now that Friendly's and IHOP and Chili's will have at least one meal per children's menu that's 600 calories or less and follows the U.S.D.A.'s guidelines for fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, I'm assuming we can say goodbye to that pesky old pediatric obesity epidemic! Problem solved.

Except ... I don't mean to be all Debbie Downer and rain on your low-fat parade, but I don't think these new "healthy" meals are going to be 1. all that healthy or 2. appetizing enough for kids to go anywhere near them. And that's because this "initiative" is all for show.

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The same "instead of fries, you can order carrot sticks!" switcheroo has already been done to varying degrees in other restaurants and school cafeterias. And what have we learned from those experiences, boys and girls? Well, it would seem that giving kids and parents "choices" doesn't guarantee they're going to make the right one.

It's a clever move on the part of the National Restaurant Association, to make a grand public gesture like this -- how can anyone blame the fast food industry for destroying our youth now? But I've seen what passes as a "nutritious" alternative to a more typically fat and sodium-laden side dish, and let me just say -- two mushy grapes and an unidentifiable piece of melon do not a "fruit cup" make. Wow, great way to turn kids on to fresh fruits and veggies! Of course they'd rather have the fries. At least ketchup is a vegetable, as we learned during the Reagan administration.

What if fast food restaurants started serving up palatable produce and "whole grains" that weren't a mix of mostly processed white flour and about a bazillion preservatives? We'll never know, because you can't turn a profit selling real food at Big Mac prices. So the best we're ever going to get from establishments like these are ersatz "good" choices that do more to discourage kids from eating healthy than anything else.

Do you think "healthy" kids menu items at fast food restaurants are really healthy?

 

Image via Glenn Buckholtz/Flickr

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