Information for Preteens: About Fast Food
Americans eat a lot of fast food. It's fast, easy, cheap, and fills you up. But do you know what it is filling you up with?
You could easily eat all the calories you need in a day in one meal at a fast food restaurant. The meal would also add extra sugar, sodium, and fat.
After the movie Super Size Me came out, many popular fast food chains started offering "healthier" choices. Some of these are actually healthy, but there are some hidden pitfalls. For example, there are some salads that are just as bad for you as cheeseburgers.
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Fast Food Comparisons
Let's compare two salads – both from Burger King.
- Burger King Tender Grill Chicken Salad with lite Italian dressing
- Burger King TenderCrisp™ Chicken Salad with caesar dressing
- 360 calories, 20 grams of fat, 1160 milligrams of sodium
- 580 calories, 46 grams of fat, 1730 milligrams of sodium
Now, let's compare two hamburgers from McDonald's. One is small and might not be as filling as the other, but it also won't clog your arteries.
- McDonald's Hamburger
- McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder® with Cheese
- 260 calories, 9 grams of fat, 530 milligrams of sodium
- 730 calories, 40 grams of fat, 1330 milligrams of sodium
French fries can be pretty bad for you if you have a lot. Let's compare a small order of Wendy's french fries versus an extra large order.
- Wendy's small french fries
- Wendy's Great Biggie® french fries
- 280 calories, 14 grams of fat, 270 milligrams of sodium
- 590 calories, 29 grams of fat, 570 milligrams of sodium
Let's compare two shakes, a small and a large from two different chains.
- Wendy's small Frosty™ (12 ounces)
- McDonald's Triple Thick® Shake (32 ounces)
- 330 calories, 8 grams of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium
- 1330 calories, 26 grams of fat, 410 milligrams of sodium (And that's only a drink!)
Lastly, let's compare the "healthier" choices that fast food restaurants currently offer.
- A Wendy's Fruit Bowl with Yogurt
- A McDonald's Apple Dippers
- A McDonald's Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait
- 220 calories, 1 gram of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium
- 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 40 milligram of sodium
- 160 calories, 1 gram of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium
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Tips for Eating 'Healthier' Fast Food
Below are some tips to make your fast food a little healthier.
- Order some of the healthier choices mentioned above.
- Order dressing on the side of a salad.
- Do not use all of the dressing that comes with a salad.
- If you can, order a low-fat salad dressing such as vinaigrette.
- Order your burger without mayonnaise or other high-calorie and high-fat toppings.
- Go for the grilled items versus the fried ones.
- Choose places, such as Wendy's, which have the option of replacing fries with a baked potato, chili, or a salad. These are healthier options because they are not fried.
- If you have to drink a regular soda, get the smallest size. Remember: it's still better to order diet soda or bottled water.
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high school student writer
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Fast Food Facts, Center for Science in the Public Interest.
For More Information:
See our Teen Fast Food article.
Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013