By JR on Saturday, November 19, 2011
She believes official pronouncements -- despite their changeability. The first thing my son learned to say was his McDonald's order and he had negligible health problems and is now a perfectly fit and healthy young man
SOME popular kids' fast food has almost triple the recommended levels of saturated fat and twice the salt. The findings prompted The Biggest Loser trainer Michelle Bridges to liken parents who fed their children excessive fast food to child abusers.
The Herald Sun can reveal that the worse fast-food companies are McDonald's and Hungry Jack's. Some of their children's meals are more than 1000 kilojoules above levels recommended for children to eat in one sitting. Some of their meals have more saturated fat and salt in one serve than children aged four and eight are supposed to eat in an entire day.
The NSW Cancer Council assessed the nutritional composition of 199 children's meals from six fast-food chains: Chicken Treat, Hungry Jack's, KFC, McDonald's, Oporto and Red Rooster. It found the younger the child, the greater the difference between recommended and actual levels. For example, for four-year-olds, the average meal from McDonald's and Hungry Jack's had three times the recommended saturated fat.
All chains except McDonald's had meals with too much sugar, and all chains had meals with almost double the recommended salt levels. Healthier options were meals with water, milk or juice, small amounts of chicken nuggets or wraps.
One in four Australian children and 43 per cent of teenagers eat fast food at least once a week.
Ms Bridges said she was "not anti-fast food" but condemned parents who regularly fed children junk. "When you look at the low nutritional value of what some parents feed kids regularly, it's like child abuse," Ms Bridges said. "It's highly addictive and changes a kid's tastebuds, so that's what they crave instead of healthy food. "Some parents and their kids get takeaway every night - they don't even need to read the drive-through menu, they know it by heart."
Cancer Council nutritionist Kathy Chapman said the solution was not to criticise parents, but promote fruit, vegetables and salad in such meals. "There also needs to be easy nutrition information at the point of sale and traffic-light labels to make decision-making easier," Ms Chapman said.
A spokeswoman for McDonald's said parents, "often swap in healthier options to suit their children - over a third of every Happy Meal sold includes a healthier choice".