The vast majority, however, were placed in the "worst" category and weren't ranked, since they were all "equally bad," says study leader Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center. Instead, researchers described the worst three kids' meals at each restaurant. But if parents are turning to a fast food restaurant for dinner, any of the "best" options are all reasonable, she says: "We feel comfortable recommending those meals to children."
These, according to the researchers, are some of the best and worst kids' meal combinations at eight popular fast food chains:
Best: Veggie Delite sandwich (wheat bread, no cheese); apple slices; 100 percent juice.
Worst: None. "They only offer milk and 100 percent juice, and they have apples and yogurt as sides. And their sandwiches are all pretty low in fat," Harris says.
Best: Macaroni and cheese; apple "fries" (without caramel sauce); fat-free milk.
Worst: Cheeseburger; French fries; Dr. Pepper
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Best: Grilled chicken drumstick; corn on the cob; unsweetened tea; string cheese.
Worst: Extra crispy chicken drumstick; potato wedges; Mountain Dew; string cheese
Best: Jr. Burger; apple slices; unsweetened tea.
Worst: Two chicken strips with ranch sauce; French fries; green apple slush
Best: Crispy chicken sandwich; mandarin orange cup; low-fat milk.
Worst: Four chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce; French fries; Vanilla Frosty Jr.
Best: Hamburger; apple dippers (without caramel dip); low-fat milk.
Worst: Cheeseburger; French fries; Hi-C Orange Lavaburst
Best: Chicken strips with ketchup; applesauce; Sprite; vanilla ice-cream cone.
Worst: Cheeseburger; French fries; Mountain Dew; chocolate Dilly Bar
Best: None. Taco Bell did not meet the researchers' criteria for healthy options.
Worst: Bean burrito; cinnamon twists; Mountain Dew Baja Blast