To compare energy (calories), total and saturated fats, and Na levels for ‘kids’ menu’ food items offered by four leading multinational fast-food chains across five countries.
A content analysis was used to create a profile of the nutritional content of food items on kids’ menus available for lunch and dinner in four leading fast-food chains in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.
Food items from kids’ menus were included from four fast-food companies: Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), McDonald's and Subway. These fast-food chains were selected because they are among the top ten largest multinational fast-food chains for sales in 2010, operate in high-income English-speaking countries, and have a specific section of their restaurant menus labelled ‘kids’ menus’.
The results by country indicate that kids’ menu foods contain less energy (fewer calories) in restaurants in the USA and lower Na in restaurants in the UK. The results across companies suggest that kids’ menu foods offered at Subway restaurants are lower in total fat than food items offered at Burger King and KFC, and food items offered at KFC are lower in saturated fat than items offered at Burger King.
Although the reasons for the variation in the nutritional quality of foods on kids’ menus are not clear, it is likely that fast-food companies could substantially improve the nutritional quality of their kids’ menu food products, translating to large gains for population health.