I was horrified when I placed a “kid-sized” order of silver-dollar, chocolate-chip pancakes for my son the other day. I actually ordered off of the kids menu and couldn’t believe it when the server brought out 8 small, chocolate-packed pancakes. I assumed I would only be getting about 3 tiny pancakes. Of course, my son finished about 4 of them and then said he was all done. Thankfully, they brought the fruit cup out first, so he started with something wholesome, which limited the amount of space he had for the pancakes.
I learned my lesson though. Even though the server looks at me like I’m crazy, I now order 3 silver-dollar pancakes instead of the 8. Yes, I know I can get more and just take it home (which what I was told this morning), but the idea that a restaurant believes this is an appropriate serving size for a small child is scary. When Burger King came out with the “Big Kid’s Meal” in 1999, there was a great deal of outrage. Some thought they were offering too much food for little ones, but they argued that they were trying to offer older kids a smaller portion size than what they would get in a adult-size meal. The problem is, though, that a kid who eats one of these Big Kid meal options (double cheeseburger, small fries, 16oz. Coke) will have eaten more than 900 calories in one sitting. Children between the ages of 4-8 yrs should eat between 1200-1400 calories a day, so a 900-calorie meal would represent more than half of their daily calories! These oversized meals certainly contribute to the childhood obesity problem we are experiencing in the U.S., so parents should be encouraged to not only limit their child’s intake of fast food, but to help children make better choices when they do eat fast food. More and more restaurants are offering healthier options (like applesauce instead of fries), and some restaurants, like McDonald’s, have reduced the portion sizes in kids meals.
We can all be smarter consumers and lead by example…hopefully children are learning when they observe the choices parents make as well!
Written by: Lori Francis