Category Archives: fast food

Fast food: bad to the bone

fast food boyFast food and don’t mix. We aren’t fans and we never have been. We don’t expect to be fans in the future – barring some serious changes to the industry and the recipes and the ingredients used in the menus of fast food chains. There’s just so much wrong there. Calorie and fat content. Excessive sodium. Ingredients that are known to be unhealthy. We know that fast food is linked to conditions like diabetes and obesity. And unfortunately we know that all over America, we’re feeding it to our children. So if all of the previous research associating fast food with health problems for our kids didn’t sway you from saying no to fast food when your child asks for it, perhaps this will.  Fast food is bad to the bone — the bones of children.

Living in a neighborhood where there is greater access to fast food outlets may affect bone development in early childhood, according to the first study to investigate links between neighborhood food environment and bone mass in the first 6 years of life.

Reporting their findings in the journal Osteoporosis International, researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK also conclude:

“If confirmed in future studies, action to reduce access to fast-food outlets could have benefits for childhood development and long-term bone health.”

The team also found that having more healthy specialty stores in the neighborhood is linked to higher bone mass in young children.

For their study, the researchers used data on 1,107 children that was collected in the Southampton Women’s Survey, a research project that aims to learn about the dietary and lifestyle factors that influence the health of women and their children.

They compared the bone mineral density and bone mineral content of children at birth, and then at age 4 or 6, to the number of supermarkets, healthy specialty stores and fast food outlets in their neighborhood.

The analysis showed that a higher number of fast food outlets in the neighborhood was tied to lower bone mineral density and bone mineral content in newborns. However, this link was not significant at age 4 and 6.

In contrast, the researchers note that having more healthy specialty stores in the neighborhood – such as greengrocers selling fresh fruit and vegetables – was tied to higher bone mineral density at age 4 and 6.

Coauthor Cyrus Cooper, professor of rheumatology and director of the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at Southampton, where the study took place, says:

“These findings suggest that the exposure of mothers and children to more healthy food environments might optimize childhood bone development through its influence on the quality of the maternal diet and dietary choices during childhood.”

He explains if the findings are confirmed with more extensive research, then they would suggest that improving the food environment could benefit children’s bone development.

Initiatives to improve the food environment have already begun in some parts of the UK, where local planning regulations do not allow fast food outlets within 400 meters of schools.

October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day, whose message this year is “serve up bone strength,” to emphasize the role that a healthy diet plays in bone health.

Research shows that a balanced diet containing adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, protein, calcium and vitamin D helps develop healthy bones throughout life.

According to a 2014 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, attaining substantial bone mass in early life is thought to be the “most important modifiable determinant of lifelong skeletal health.”

Growing up is hard enough without health problems. Kids should be able to enjoy childhoods that are free from the problems associated with fast food – and the list of those problems is growing every day. Let’s be the responsible adults kids need us to be and say no to fast food for them, until they can make this intelligent decision for themselves.

Over 40 Chipotle locations in the Seattle and Portland area close due to E. coli outbreak

chipotleIf you’re located in the Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon area and you’re out and about this election day, you may want to make a note to avoid Chipotle for a meal on the go. You may also find that avoiding Chipotle today has been made a little easier for you, as Chipotle locations in the Seattle and Portland area close due to E. Coli outbreaks.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is temporarily closing more than 40 restaurants in and around Seattle and Portland, Ore., as health officials investigate an E. coli outbreak that has gotten at least 22 people sick.

“Since Oct. 14, three people in Clackamas and Washington counties in Oregon, both in suburban Portland, have fallen ill, said Jonathan Modie, Oregon Health Authority spokesman. And 19 cases in Clark County, which contains Vancouver, Wash., just north of Portland; Cowlitz County, north of Vancouver; King County, where Seattle is the largest city; and Skagit County about 50 miles north of King County, also have been reported.

“About a third of the victims have been hospitalized, he said. No one has died from the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, the most common in food-borne outbreaks.

” ‘Many people affected with Shiga toxin E. coli may not seek health care, so the number of people made ill by this outbreak is likely more than identified,’ Modie said in a statement. ‘Health officials want people who have eaten at a Chipotle between Oct. 14 and 23 and become ill with vomiting and bloody diarrhea to see their health-care provider and mention this outbreak.’ ”

In a statement provided to Reuters, Chipotle said it had received notice from health officials that some of the people who got sick ate at six of the chain’s restaurants. “Out of an abundance of caution,” the company said, it temporarily closed all its restaurants in the area — 43 locations in two states.

Reuters reports this is the third food-contamination outbreak to be linked to the restaurant chain since August. The wire service adds:

“Those earlier cases involved salmonella and the highly infectious virus norovirus.”

“The 1,700-outlet chain has grown quickly since it opened in 1993 with a single location, distinguishing itself from typical fast-food restaurants by touting its use of healthy and high-quality fresh ingredients in its menu of burritos, tacos and salads.”

NBC News reports that the investigation into the E. coli outbreak is still in the early stages, and that it’s likely they will find that the E. coli “came from a fresh food product delivered to Chipotle restaurants and other places.”

NBC News adds:
“The investigation started with talking to everyone diagnosed with E. coli and finding out what they ate and where. Test samples from those individuals will go to state labs in Washington and Oregon.

“Then samples of food from the restaurants will be tested at a U.S. Food and Drug Administration laboratory to see if bacteria from the food matches the human cases.”

Chipotle’s prudent decision to temporarily close 43 locations in two states certainly illustrates for a tremendous commitment to the health and safety of the consumers who are loyal to the brand. We’ll keep you posted on developments as we’re updated.

Subway commits to antibiotic-free poultry by the end of 2016

140312152136-overtime-violations-subway-1024x576Subway has been one of the better fast food chains when it comes to listening to consumer demand and providing healthy improvements to their menu items. is happy to hear that once again, Subway is listening to their customers.  Subway commits to antibiotic-free poultry — joining a list of fast food giants who are offering antibiotic free poultry to their customers.

The parade of fast-food companies promising to sell meat from animals that never received antibiotics just got significantly longer. Subway, the ubiquitous sandwich chain, is following the lead of Chipotle, Panera, Chick-fil-A and McDonalds, with its promise Tuesday that its meat suppliers gradually will go antibiotic-free.

In one respect, in fact, Subway is going further than McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A, which have promised only to serve antibiotic-free poultry. Subway is laying out a timetable for its suppliers of beef and pork to go antibiotic-free as well.

Getting adequate supplies of such beef and pork, however, appears to be more difficult, and will take longer, than accomplishing the same task with poultry. According to Subway’s statement, the “transition to chicken raised without antibiotics will be completed by the end of 2016.” Beef and pork, however, will take until 2025.

The reason is simple. Antibiotic poultry production is now mainstream. Big poultry producers like Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride are gradually getting rid of antibiotics that are used in human medicine. (The use of medically useful antibiotics in agriculture is controversial because it increases the chances that bacteria will become resistant to those drugs, rendering those drugs useless against some infections.)

Perdue Farms, which has led the poultry industry’s move away from antibiotics, says that 95 percent of its chickens already receive no human antibiotics, and more than half of its chickens receive no antibiotics at all.

Pork and beef, however, have been a different story. Most large-scale hog operations and feedlots still rely at least occasionally on the use of antibiotics.

Subway has been under fierce attack by some opponents of antibiotic use in agriculture, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe.

In a statement, NRDC’s Lena Brook praised the fast-food chain’s move, calling it “a strong plan that will help the company live up to the healthy image it has long-cultivated.”

So Subway isn’t simply following the path started by other fast food chains who are using only antibiotic free poultry – they’re going a step further and committing to antibiotic free beef and pork. We’re hopeful that those other chains commit to go the extra mile as well.

The Burger King Halloween Whopper … the color of the bun isn’t the only thing that’s creepy follows along with the fast food world and reports on the nutrition facts and ingredient lists of all the new offerings. Those posts often tell you that we wouldn’t want to eat the item on which we’ve reported. We often cite specific ingredients that place those items on our avoid list.

Today though, we’re looking at the Burger King Halloween Whopper. We’re sure you’ve been hearing the stories connected to the burger. Without stating the very definite physical response that many people have had to this new creation, let’s just leave you with the idea that it appears to be particularly hard on the systems of those who consume it … leaving some colorful results in its aftermath and causing Burger King to note that the flavoring and food colorings used in the Halloween Whopper in the U.S. are common and within the safe and acceptable daily intake levels approved by the FDA. The problems appear to be linked to the black sesame seed bun.

Are you completely turned off yet? We are.

Let’s take a closer look at the Halloween Whopper and see if we can figure out the cause of its spooky and colorful after effects.

Creepy Nutrition Facts
Calories:              710
Fat:                      43 grams
Saturated Fat:    15 grams
Trans Fat:           1.5 grams
Sodium:              1530 mg
The Halloween Whopper is not a good food choice. Too many calories. Too much fat. Too much saturated fat. Trans fat. And far too much sodium.

Spooky ingredients?
Let’s see what’s going on in that black sesame seed bun:

“BLACK SESAME SEED BUN: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron. Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Wheat Gluten, Soybean Oil, Salt, Maltodextrin, Defatted Wheat Germ, Fructose, Refiners Syrup Powder, Glycerine, Monoglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Powdered Flaxseed, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Gum Arabic, FD&C Red #40, Molasses Powder, Modified Corn Starch, FD&C Blue #1, Calcium Sulfate, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Spice, Worcerstershire Sauce (Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Dried Garlic, Sugar, Spice, Tamarind, Natural Flavor), Natural Flavor, FD&C Yellow #6, Sugar, Orange Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Oil, Ascorbic Acid, Corn Syrup Solids, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Enzymes, Onion Powder, Tannic Acid, Agar, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Calcium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (to retard spoilage), Topped with Sesame Seeds. CONTAINS: WHEAT

The flavoring and food colorings used to color the HA.1.®LOWEEN WHOPPER® black bun in the US, are commonly used in the industry and within the safe and Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out that the food coloring included in this bun is creating the unusual physical effects linked to the Halloween Whopper.

But when the burger chain released the burger, a representative told ABC News that the black bun contains less than 1 percent food dye.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency care physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told that many common synthetic dyes, including D&C Red #40 and FD&C Blue #1 “are generally not able to be broken down or absorbed by the body so they end up coming out …”

He said that burger lovers shouldn’t be alarmed and noted that the Food and Drug Administration considers these dyes safe for public consumption. Also, similar reactions occur when people eat natural foods like beets or consume of large amounts green vegetables.

O.k. it was nice to know that the side effects of eating this whopper aren’t going to hurt anyone. But, really, why would anyone want to eat this? And why would Burger King want to offer this? The Halloween Whopper has “NO” written all over it!

Dunkin Donuts Reese’s Peanut Butter Square Donut

1440657407982Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups may possible be the most popular candy of all time. It is highly coveted in Halloween candy bags, a big player in the birthday party goody bag scene, and an event piñata favorite. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have inspired flavored cereals, chocolate spreads, dessert bars and ice cream. And not the iconic candy has inspired its own Dunkin Donuts creation.

The new Dunkin Donuts Reese’s Peanut Butter Square Donut is making an appearance this month at locations everywhere. This square creation features rather brightly shaded orange icing over a chocolate frosted donut with peanut butter cup flavored filling. May be just a bit too sweet for most of us here at FoodFacts. We thought we’d take a look at what’s gone into making this donut.

Nutrition Facts
Calories:                370
Fat:                         19 grams
Sugar:                    26 grams

It’s sweet. And it has 19 grams of fat. And that’s not the way we like to start our days. Now let’s see what’s gone into the creation.

INGREDIENTS: Donut: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Palm Oil, Yeast Donut Concentrate [Soy Flour, Salt, Pregelatinized Wheat Starch, Whey (Milk), Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Nonfat Milk, Gum Blend (Cellulose, Guar, Acacia, Carrageenan, Xanthan), Sodium Caseinate (Milk), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Eggs, Soybean Oil, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Annatto and Turmeric (Colors)], Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Yeast, Mono and Diglycerides; Reese’s® Peanut Butter Buttercreme Filling: Powdered Sugar (Contains Corn Starch as processing aid), Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil, Canola Oil, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60), Peanut Butter (Peanuts, Peanut Oil, Sugar, Salt, Corn Starch), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup. Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Salt, Caramel Color (Sulfites), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative); Chocolate Icing: Sugar, Water, Cocoa, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Contains 2% or less of: Dextrose, Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Agar, Artificial Flavor; Orange Icing: [White Icing: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Artificial Flavor, Salt, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier); Orange Coloring: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Glycerin, Modified Food Starch, Sugar, Carrageenan Gum, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid; May Contain FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Blue 2, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 6, FD&C Yellow 5].

While Dunkin Donuts isn’t known for healthy ingredients, we’d like to point out that this particular donut stands out for containing far more controversial items than most donuts on their menu – an astounding 25 to be exact. That’s really unbelievable … even for Dunkin.

This isn’t the peanut butter cup of our dreams … the ingredient list reads like a terrible nightmare. Dunkin has to do better than this one.

It doesn’t matter who you are, fast food consumption affects you the same way it affects everyone else.

KFC_Bandung_Supermall-300x199For years, we’ve all heard certain myths regarding fast food consumption. Among those myths are that low-income families are consuming more fast food than those with higher incomes. We’ve also been told that those who are overweight and obese are eating more fast food than those who maintain a healthy weight. We’ve also come to believe that folks who live in a “food desert,” or an area where there is limited access to fresh foods are consuming more fast food. These ideas have always made sense to us, but perhaps they shouldn’t have.

We may make fast food out to be worse than it is, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Consumption of fast food has been linked to weight gain in adults, as well as associated with higher caloric intake and poorer diet quality among children and adolescents, said researchers from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHNES). These effects have seemed more prominent among low-income families, as well as individuals who are overweight and obese, where there’s less access to fresh food, also known as a food desert. And yet, the CDC doesn’t find this to be the case.

Analyzing the data collected from the NHNES in 2011-2012 — a cross-sectional survey designed to monitor the heath and nutritional status of the U.S. population — the CDC reported “no significant difference was seen by poverty status in the average daily percentage of calories consumed from fast food among children and adolescents aged 2 to 19.” Similarly, “the average daily percentage of calories consumed from fast food did not vary significantly by weight status.” As The Atlantic first put it, the level of fast food consumption based on poverty and weight status was “pretty even.”

There were, however, some trends among age and race groups. Adolescents aged 12 to 19 consumed twice the average daily percentage of calories from fast food than did younger children, and overall, non-Hispanic Asian children and adolescents consumed fewer calories from fast food compared to non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Black, and Hispanic children and adolescents. The CDC noted that previous studies have shown that acculturation to the U.S. lifestyle plays an important role in the adoption of unhealthy behaviors, including but not limited to fast food consumption.

The Atlantic added these findings may dispel the idea that fast food is a primary cause of obesity in the U.S. The magazine cited a fast food ban passed in South Los Angeles, where the obesity rate was higher, failed to slow the epidemic. In fact, it seemed to speed up obesity levels.

That’s not to say the CDC is giving everyone a pass to load up on fast food; studies do show fast food items are spiked with potentially harmful antibiotics, fat, sodium, and sugar. But what they are finding is that everyone eats fast food, so the obesity rate among low-income families could very well be fueled by another type of food. The Atlantic pointed a finger at the general cheap access Americans have to sugar foods. As Medical Daily previously reported, sugary drinks in particular have been shown to weave “a complicated web of disease and increased risk of death” not just in the U.S., but around the world.

While the findings may dispel the belief that fast food is a key culprit in the obesity crisis in America, they also point to the idea that too many of us are eating it, no matter where we live, no matter our socioeconomic status, no matter our weight. wants us to all get on the bandwagon and stay away from fast food!

Just too much!!! 12% of American kids’ calories come from fast food consumption doesn’t like fast food for anyone, but when it comes to our kids we really have a problem. That feeling should be shared by everyone here in this country. And here’s some great information that backs up our stance.

At a time of growing concern over childhood obesity, a new report shows kids are getting12 percent of their total calories from fast-food restaurants.

Not surprisingly, teens are more likely than younger kids to consume fast food, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those 12 to 19 years old got 17 percent of their calories from fast food in 2010-2011, versus 9 percent of children 2 to 11 years old.

By comparison, an earlier CDC report, done in 2013, found that adults got about 11 percent of their calories from fast food.

A third of kids eat fast food on any given day, according to the new report, which found that children eat the equivalent of a small hamburger — such as the kind found in a McDonald’s Happy Meal — every day.

Sandra Hassink, president of the Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics, credits advertising fast food with cartoon characters and including toys with meals.

“The marketing is working,” says Hassink.

Children who eat a lot of fast food tend to consume more calories but have a nutritionally poorer diet versus other kids, the report says — of special concern given that the obesity rate among children has more than doubled in the past 30 years, from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012.

A growing number of children are developing health problems once seen only in middle-aged people, such as high blood pressure, liver disease and type 2 diabetes, Hassink says.

“Childhood is not a place where you can say, ‘Let everyone eat what they want, and we can fix it later,’ ” she says.

Let’s keep our kids healthy. Let’s make the same kind of commitment to giving them the best start in life that we make about reading to them, playing with them, and building their self esteem. Our commitment to their nutritional health and well-being should be on that same list. Let’s take fast food off the menu for children everywhere!

The new Tailgater Breakfast Sandwich from Dunkin

1439797627427What exactly is the taste of tailgating? Dunkin Donuts seems to think so and hence has created the Tailgater Breakfast Sandwich. The Dunkin website encourages us to “Enjoy the flavors of tailgating with juicy Smoked Sausage, Peppers and Onions, and Ancho Chipotle Sauce.” will admit that we had no idea that tailgating involved Ancho Chipotle Sauce.  Or breakfast sandwiches.


Let’s take a closer look and see what we can find out about this new breakfast sandwich.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories:                   610
Fat:                            29 grams
Saturated Fat:         10 grams
Sodium:                   1620 grams

That’s more than we really wanted to know. Too many calories. Too much fat. Too much saturated fat. Too much sodium. This particular breakfast sandwich is worse than most fast food breakfast sandwiches we’ve seen … which doesn’t bode well for the ingredient list.

INGREDIENTS: French Roll: Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Enzyme, Folic Acid, Ascorbic Acid added as Dough Conditioner), Water, Contains less than 2% of the following: Yeast, Salt, Vegetable Oil (Soy or Canola), Dextrose, Concentrate Mix [Whole Bean Flour, Rye Sour (Wheat Flour, Rye Flour, Lactic Acid, Potato Starch, Acetic Acid), Rye Flour, Soy Lecithin, Ascorbic Acid, Enzyme], DATEM, Calcium Sulfate, Malted Barley Flour, Guar Gum; Split Smoked Sausage: Meat Ingredients (Pork, Beef), Water, Contains 2% or less of: Salt, Corn Syrup, Potassium Lactate, Natural Flavors, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphates, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Diacetate, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Sodium Nitrite; Fried Egg: Egg Whites, Water, Egg Yolks, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Sauteed Flavor (Soybean Oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Natural Flavor), Salt, Artificial Butter Flavor (Propylene Glycol, Artificial Flavor), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Coarse Ground Black Pepper; Fire Roasted Vegetables: Yellow Onion, Green Bell Peppers, Red Bell Peppers; Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese: Pasteurized Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto (Color); Ancho Chipotle Sauce: Water, Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Canola), Vinegar, Sugar, Tomato Paste, Egg Yolk, Salt, Contains less than 2% of: Chipotle Sauce (Water, Sugar, Chipotle Peppers, Vinegar, Salt, Modified Food Starch), Molasses, Spice, Garlic, Ancho Chili Pepper, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Modified Food Starch, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Benzoate and Calcium Disodium EDTA (Preservatives), Lemon Juice Concentrate, Onion, Caramel Color, Buttermilk Solids, Citric Acid, Sour Cream Solids, Yellow 6, Yellow 5.

There are over a dozen controversial ingredients in this sandwich. This newest breakfast effort from Dunkin is one of the worst breakfast options we can remember seeing in a very long time. We won’t be tailgating any time soon.

A new “Happy Meals” bill ‘Happy Meals’ may make parents a lot happier about healthier fast food choices for kids in New York City

ap110725132481“Happy Meals” is one of those phrases that no longer simply applies to the McDonald’s kids meals to which it actually refers. Kind of like “Kleenex” and “Coke” (referring to facial tissues and cola drinks), a “Happy Meal” is now a universal reference to a kids meal that comes in a box along with a toy or sometimes a book at a fast food restaurant. Traditionally, though, has always thought that a Happy Meal isn’t really a happy meal – at least not nutritionally. The term “miserable meal” would be much more fitting when you take a good look at what goes into those boxes.

Now, a new bill to improve the nutritional value of fast food restaurant meals marketed to children — like McDonald’s Happy Meals — could have a wide enough impact to reduce calories, fat, and sodium, according to a new study led by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center.

The study, which will publish in the American Journal of Preventive Medicineonline on August 31, includes collaboration from NYU College of Global Public Health, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The “Healthy Happy Meals” Bill, proposed by New York City Council member Benjamin J. Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island, would require that fast food meals marketed to kids using toys or other promotional items include a serving of fruit, vegetables or whole grain. They must also be limited to 500 calories or less, with fewer than 35 percent of calories coming from fat, fewer than 10 percent coming from saturated fat, fewer than 10 percent from added sugars, and fewer than 600 milligrams of sodium. The bill is currently being considered by the City Council, and is similar to legislation recently enacted in California.

To identify whether the bill might make a public health impact on nutrition improvement and number of children reached, the researchers analyzed receipts collected in 2013 and 2014 from 358 adults, which included purchases for 422 children at multiple New York City and New Jersey locations of Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s, three fast food chains that market kids’ meals.

Adults purchased on average 600 calories for each child, with 36 percent of those calories coming from fat, according to the findings. Over one-third of children ordered kids’ meals, and 98 percent of kids’ meals did not meet the nutritional criteria outlined in the proposed legislation.

If kids’ meals meet the bill’s criteria and children’s orders do not shift, there would be a 9 percent drop in calories — representing 54 fewer calories — a 10 percent drop in sodium, and a 10 percent drop in percentage of calories from fat.

“While 54 calories at a given meal is a small reduction, small changes that affect a wide number of people can make a large impact,” said Brian Elbel, PhD, lead author and associate professor in the Departments of Population Health at NYU Langone and at NYU Wagner. “Passing the bill could be a step in the right direction, though no single policy can singlehandedly eliminate childhood obesity.”

“The policy’s effectiveness will depend on whether the food industry attempts to neutralize it through marketing or other strategies,” said Marie Bragg, PhD, co-author and assistant professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone and at the NYU College of Global Public Health. “For example, the industry could remove children’s meals altogether, forcing children to order the larger portions from the adult menu.”

Dr. Bragg offered another approach: “Policymakers could consider broader restrictions on marketing, similar to legislation in Chile that banned any use of toy premiums in children’s meals in 2012,” she said.

While it may not seem like it goes far enough, this bill is far better than recent attempts by fast food giants to make kids’ meals appear healthier by promoting them without soda and fries – even though the meals are still sold with soda and fries as options. We hope we see this get through the legislation process. It’s been a long time coming.

Fast food you can eat … at least without the topping

Greek-Yogurt-ParfaitChick-Fil-A has introduced a Greek yogurt parfait that’s actually a reasonable choice for food-conscious consumers. Of course, you’d be doing yourself a favor by foregoing either the granola or chocolate cookie crumb topping, which leaves you with the yogurt topped with strawberries and blueberries.

Let’s take a quick peek at the new parfait in all its forms so you can make an informed decision the next time you find yourself on line at a Chick-Fil-A near you.
Nutrition Facts

Plain Parfait                                                              Cookie Crumb Topping                 Granola Topping
Calories:                     100                                        120                                                    160
Fat:                              3.5 grams                             5 grams                                            5 grams
Sugar:                         11 grams                              12 grams                                          14 grams

The differences between the plain parfait and either of the two toppings is relatively small and not something most would worry about. Now let’s explore the ingredient lists:

Greek Yogurt (cultured pasteurized milk, cream, live and active cultures [S thermophilus, L bulgaricus, L acidophilus, L. lactis], sugar, water, pectin, vanilla extract), strawberries, blueberries.

Granola (toasted oats [whole rolled oats, soybean oil, honey], soybean oil, sugar, honey, glycerated raisins [raisins, sunflower oil, glycerin], golden seedless raisins [raisins, sulfur dioxide added for freshness], glycerated cranberries [cranberries, sugar, glycerin, citric acid, safflower oil], pecans, almonds, walnuts, corn syrup, brown sugar, molasses, salt, natural flavors).

Oreo Cookie Crumbs (sugar, enriched four [wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate {vitamin B1}, riboflavin {vitamin B2}, folic acid], palm and/or high oleic canola and/or canola oil, and/or soybean oil, cocoa [processed with alkali], high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, leavening (baking soda, and/or calcium phosphate), salt, soy lecithin [emulsifier], vanillin-an artificial flavor, chocolate)

While the number of controversial ingredients in either topping is small, can’t help but point out how fast food again takes a perfectly acceptable option and has to add to it in a way that makes it less acceptable. We don’t need the high fructose corn syrup in the cookie crumbs or the artificial and natural flavors in either topping. And we’re less likely to purchase this menu item because of those things.

Of course, we’d also like to point out that in order to consume a more natural, healthier option at a Chick-Fil-A, you’ll need to order yogurt – not chicken.

We’ve still got a long way to go …