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Fast Food



  • Fast food meals are often high in sodium, fat, and calories. Eating high fat, super-sized meals can lead to weight gain.
  • You can make healthier choices by getting smaller portions, choosing fruit or a salad instead of fries, and drinking water rather than sugary drinks.


What about fast food?

Most families eat at a fast food restaurant at least once a week and many people have fast food several times a week. While fast food may be convenient, cheap, and taste good, it can have a bad effect on your child’s weight and health.

Fast food meals are often high in sodium, fat, and calories. Eating high fat, super-sized meals can lead to weight gain. Weight gain increases the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

How can we choose healthier fast food?

Fast food restaurants now offer smaller portions, more grilled chicken choices, and kids’ meals with fruit and milk instead of fries and sugary drinks. Some of the fast food chains limit the salt and trans fats in kids’ meals.

Here are some ideas for making healthier choices:

  • Order the smaller portion sizes. A meal with a small hamburger, small fries, and a 16 ounce diet drink may have as few as 350 calories and 14 grams of fat. If your child has a large cheeseburger, medium fries, and medium sugary drink, the calories jump to 1100 with 45 grams of fat.
  • Have milk or water instead of a sugary drink.
  • Choose grilled chicken instead of crispy chicken or burgers.
  • Choose fruit, a side salad, or a baked potato topped with vegetables instead of having fries.
  • Ask for mustard and ketchup instead of mayonnaise or order food plain and add your own condiments at home.
  • Use very little salad dressing or ask for the low-fat or fat-free dressing. Regular salad dressing can add 200 to 300 extra calories.
  • If you are taking the food home, order entrees only and fix your own side dishes. Serve with milk, water, or other low sugar drinks.

Where can I find menu and nutrition information?

Most large food chains provide nutrition information that lists all menu items and shows total calories, grams of carbohydrate, protein, total fat, saturated fat, and trans fats. Ask for information at the counter or go online to the restaurant's website. The websites often include menus, nutrient lists, and easy to use calculators so you can see exactly what your child is eating and where you need to make changes. Some websites also have information about food allergies and diabetic exchanges. You can choose fast food meal items to fit a healthy diet.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2021-03-01
Last reviewed: 2017-05-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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