Statistics show that one in every three schoolchildren eats fast food daily. Due to this, more and more children are overweight and are at an increased risk for obesity and developing diseases such as diabetes. This issue is causing parents and health professionals to be alarmed.
While fast food consumption is not the only cause of obesity in children, it is considered a major threat because of the rising number of fast food outlets in every community. Although fast food joints do not reveal the calorie content of their products, everyone is probably aware that each fast food meal is packed with more calories than our children needs in a day. Not to mention that they are also high in fat, sugar, and sodium which could all be harmful to our body.
There is no exact number as to how much calories a child needs in a day. A child’s daily calorie requirement depends on his or her age, size and level of activity. Generally school-age children would need 1600-2800 calories a day but as they grow older they would need more. Teenage boys would need more calories than teenage girls. However, a very active child would need more calories than one who is not so active, regardless of gender.
Kids don’t really have to worry about counting calories because their bodies would tell them when they would need more. What is important is that they do not eat more than their bodies need. Excess calories are stored in the body and converted to fat. Too much fat can cause various diseases. So if you don’t want your kids to become overweight and obese, then give them a healthy and balanced diet. Refrain from giving them foods that are very high in calories such as sodas, sweets, and fast food.
Convenience and Speed
Sadly, many busy parents see fast-food as a solution rather than a problem. In this day and age where speed and convenience are highly important, fast food outlets are gaining more popularity because these are exactly the things that they offer. Parents with very hectic schedules will have no time to prepare meals for their kids. So fast food becomes a very convenient way to feeding our kids.
Although many people know the “evil” lurking in each fast food product, they don’t seem to mind eating them. These foods offer so much convenience that it really doesn’t matter if they’re totally unhealthy. So fast food restaurants are doing fine, while their loyal customers may already be suffering from some disease.
It’s also a favour towards these fast food joints that kids just love them. Well, who wouldn’t want to eat something that comes with a toy, in a place that looks like Disneyland? Let’s face it, these companies spend a lot of money to launch marketing tactics that are targeted on kids. They know that it would be very beneficial to sell products that are very appealing to kids because children have this “amazing” power to persuade their parents to give them what they want. You can’t really blame kids if they love Happy Meals at McDonald’s.
Eating "Healthy" at Fast Food Outlets
Okay, I don’t really want to sound so tough and say that kids shouldn’t eat any fast food at all. Fast food is fine just as long as it doesn’t become a staple in your children’s diet. Health experts say that a maximum of two visits a month to your favourite fast food joint won’t really hurt a child’s diet.
As a parent, you can influence the amount and type of food that your children eat. So on your next visit to a fast food outlet, make sure that you make smart choices. Here are a few tips on how you can maintain your kid’s healthy diet even when you bring them to a fast food joint:
- Limit the amount of food that your children eat by ordering kid-size meals only. Never give in to the temptation of getting an upgrade even if they say that you can save more money by doing so.
- It would be good if you could talk your children out of ordering foods that are breaded and fried such as chicken nuggets, fried chicken, French fries, chicken fillet sandwich and onion rings. Persuade them to eat foods that are boiled, steamed or roasted.
- Give them side dishes such as baked potato or fresh garden salad because they are healthier than the usual sides that are offered in fast food joints.
- Before ordering a meal, explain to your children that soda is not healthy. Give them water, juice or milk instead.
- Bring some healthy snacks such as carrot sticks or fruit slices which your kids can eat on your way to the fast food outlet.
- Of course, set a good example by ordering a healthy meal yourself.
Below is list that will give you an idea of the calorie content of some of your favourite fast food products:
- Large Fries (170g) - 570 calories
- Cheeseburger (121g) – 320 calories
- Big Mac (214g) - 540 calories
- Hot Fudge Sundae (179g) – 340 calories
- Fried Chicken (223g) – 500 calories
- Fillet-O-Fish Sandwich (156g) – 470 calories
- 4 pc. Chicken Nuggets (71g) – 190 calories
- King Size Onion Rings (150g) - 500 calories
- Regular Hamburger (121g) - 290 calories
- Whopper (290g) - 670 calories
- Bacon Cheeseburger (140g) – 400 calories
- Twister (252g) - 550 calories
- Fried Chicken Original Recipe (59g) - 140 calories
- Fried Chicken Original Recipe (120g) – 360 calories
- Extra Crispy Chicken Drumstick (60g) - 160 calories
- Chicken Popcorn (71g) – 270 calories
- 4 pc. Chicken Nuggets (60g) - 170 calories
- Cheeseburger (123g) - 320 calories
- Breaded Chicken Sandwich (208g) – 440 calories
- Cheese Pan Pizza (111g) – 361 calories
- Cheese Stuffed Crust (162g) – 445 calories
- Meat Lover’s Pan Pizza (130g) – 344 calories
- Meat Lover’s Stuffed Crust (196g) – 543 calories
- Super Supreme Pan Pizza (136g) – 401 calories
- Super Supreme Stuffed Crust (198g) – 505 calories
If your children really like fast food, then maybe you can prepare some of their favourite fast food products right at your own home. But of course, you have to prepare them the healthier way. For example, you can bake potato slices and tell your kids that they’re French fries or you can make hamburgers using wheat buns.
There are actually a lot of ways to make your kids eat the food that you prepare for them. Just make them look very attractive and appealing, just like the way fast food restaurants do.