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Most Unhealthy "Health" Foods for Kids Slideshow

Most Unhealthy

Granola Bars

Granola bars seem like a healthier alternative to cookies or candy bars, and while they do have some advantages, they can also have significantly more calories. With lots of added sugar and salt, some brands have ingredients that really don't make them distinguishable from other sweets — a candy bar is still a candy bar even if you throw in some rolled oats and nuts. For a healthier option, consider making your own granola bars with fruit and honey at home.
Make healthier granola bars at home

Flavored Organic Yogurt

"Organic" doesn't necessarily mean "healthy." While organic food may be better for the environment, when it has lots of added sugar, it's not much better for your body. For instance, some brands of non-fat organic flavored yogurt can have a whopping 33 grams of sugar in one 6-ounce serving. Try getting plain yogurt and adding just a little bit of honey as a sweetener, or read labels closely when purchasing.

Apple Juice

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but apple juice most definitely will not. With more than 100 calories and 22 grams of sugar (even if it is fruit-derived), this isn't much better than a soda. For real fruit flavor and added nutrition, make your own smoothies at home.
21 brain-boosting smoothies for kids

Fruit Leather

Eating fruit leather is great alternative to eating actual leather, but it's a pretty terrible alternative to eating fruit. Even though the sugar is naturally derived from fruit juices, it's still sugar, and there's a lot of it — 14 grams in one little roll, not to mention additives and preservatives. For a healthier, additive-free, and lower sugar alternative, make your own fruit leather at home.
Make healthier fruit leather at home

Spaghetti Sauce

Commercial spaghetti sauces are a far cry from homemade, with their added sugar and salt. Many leading brands have roughly 80 calories and 20 percent of your recommended daily intake of salt in one serving, not to mention 7 grams of sugar. And when you consider that few people actually limit themselves to a half-cup of sauce on their pasta, you could be getting almost half the salt you should eat in one day from your pasta sauce. Skip the unnecessary sugar and salt and make a simple marinara at home.
Make healthier marinara sauce at home

10 Kid-Targeted Junk Foods

Food and beverage companies in the U.S. spend more than $1.6 billion each year to attract children&rsquos attention. Much of that money goes to licensing fees that allow the companies to put popular TV and movie characters on their packages.

These characters&mdashsuch as the lovable ogre Shrek, shown at left&mdashhave proven adept at selling food to kids (and their parents). This worries some health experts, in large part because licensed characters appear most often on junk food.

These Are the Healthiest and Unhealthiest Fast-Food Kids' Meals

That chocolate milk you just ordered is packed with sugar.

According to The American Heart Association, kids between 4 and 8 years old should eat approximately 1200-1400 calories per day, while 9- through 13-year-olds should eat 1600-1800. (The recommendations vary based on height, weight, and other factors, of course.) While we would love to stick to those guidelines and feed our children healthy food all the time, it's not always possible&mdashespecially on the go. But a trip through the drive-thru doesn't have to mean filling up on French fries. Many notoriously unhealthy restaurants have actually made very positive changes to their menus.

We rounded up the healthiest (and unhealthiest) menu options at seven popular fast-food chains. While our selections are based primarily on the number of calories per meal, we've included links to the full breakdown of nutritional information.

Unhealthy Foods Kids Love (and Healthier Recipes for Them)

Try baking this classic kid favorite instead of frying for a healthier alternative that you'll love just as much as your little ones. Go ahead, make yourself a couple.

Kids won't question the rich creaminess of this updated mac and cheese, even though it's studded with veggies. Even better, the no-fuss recipe will have you out of the kitchen in the blink of an eye.

Not only are these finger-lickin' favorites healthier because they're baked and not fried, they're tastier because they're make with fresh ingredients and never frozen.

Combining two kid-friendly dishes &mdash tacos and pizza &mdash is a surefire way to end a meal with clean plates. Black beans and fresh salsa pack in nutrients, but they'll only focus on the flavor.

Don't underestimate this simple snack, which wraps together three lunch box staples for an after-school boost that will sustain kids until dinner. You might even want to grab one to stay full and focused.

This version of the fave from Macaroni Grill will satisfy your primal need for pasta, with about half the calories. Kids will gobble it up as soon as you set it down.

This menu of meatloaf and buttermilk mashed potatoes is as hearty as the diner original &mdash but better for you.

With leaner ground sirloin, these sliders have less fat and the rolls won't get soggy. The size helps with portion control.

This easy, open-faced sandwich makes a great snack or meal for young kids. A sprinkling of wheat germ adds an extra dose of good-for-you fiber that won't overpower the gooey peanut butter kids love.

Beans are a great low-fat source of protein. Add broccoli and you'll get a healthy dose of fiber, too. Plus, the broccoli and tomatoes are loaded with vitamins and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. The Romano provides full flavor (and calcium) without adding much fat.

Smother fries with chili for a kid-approved meal. In this version, the potatoes are baked, and the chili is vegetarian so you can feel good about serving this family favorite when you're short on time.

Chicken and pasta are the perfect covers for slipping broccoli into the meal. Part-skim mozzarella makes the chicken feel indulgent at a fraction of the calories of the restaurant version.

Ground turkey, panko (Japanese bread crumbs), Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a few other ingredients make delicious, kid-friendly meatballs that keep dinner on the lean side.

For a deceptively tasty treat, there's nothing like the combination of peanut butter and banana. For a thicker, colder smoothie, cut peeled banana into chunks and freeze up to a week in a self-sealing plastic bag. You don't have to tell them it's not ice cream.

Transform lasagna with meat sauce from a guilty pleasure into a wholesome meal. Small swap-ins can make a mighty difference: Whole-wheat noodles, low-fat cottage cheese, and lean ground sirloin create a light and delicious baked pasta.

Part-skim ricotta keeps these mini pizzas creamy with fewer calories and less fat. Whole-wheat pitas are fiber-rich when covered in cheese, you can bet kids will gobble them up.

Ground turkey cuts the fat content of these tasty little burgers without sacrificing flavor. Try swapping in a low-fat ranch to slash even more fat and calories.

This quick and easy popcorn recipe &mdash which calls for basic Italian ingredients like Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, and oregano &mdash is a tasty snack that even the picky eaters in your home will savor. It's a light and healthy replacement for microwaveable pizza snacks.

Baking these classic kid favorites in the oven instead of frying them cuts the fat down, so you can feel better about saying yes to them once in a while.

This cute twist on meat and potatoes will have the little ones clamoring for more. The pre-portioned servings makes dinner easy and a simple side salad is enough to round out the meal.

They might not immediately replace ice cream cones, but the rich chocolate coating makes these a good compromise between parents and children. Roll them in chopped nuts to slip some healthy fats and proteins into their dessert.

Top whole-wheat pitas with ricotta cheese, garbanzo beans, and sautéed vegetables for a fast dinner the whole family will love. The kids will see pizza you'll see a balanced, nutritious meal.

These quick and easy favorites are stuffed with fresh veggies, but don't worry, once your kids pull them apart and see the strings of melted cheese, they'll forget all about the greens. Avocado heightens the creaminess while adding nutritious fats.

The peanut butter in these makes them work well as after-school snacks. Kids will stay full until dinner without any of the chemicals and excess sugar found in many packaged granola bars.

CDC: Kids Lack Access to Healthy Food Choices

April 26, 2011 -- Limited access to healthy foods in most U.S. states may be making it more difficult to instill healthy eating habits in children and may be fueling the childhood obesity epidemic.

A new CDC report shows 32 states and the District of Columbia scored at or below the national average for the Modified Retail Food Environment Index, an indicator of access to retailers that sell healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

Based on a range from zero (no food retailers that typically sell healthy food) to 100 (only food retailers that sell healthy food), the national average score was 10. The highest-scoring states were Montana and Maine, with scores of 16 and 15, respectively. Rhode Island and the District of Columbia ranked at the bottom of the index with scores of 5 and 4, respectively.

“To feed their children healthy food at home, parents must have ready access to stores that sell affordable, healthy food,” says William Dietz, MD, PhD, director of CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity, in a news release.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have been under the spotlight for decades now as health food advocates point out that they can come with a list of side effects, much like a drug. The side effects that are claimed by those against sweeteners like aspartame include some really severe conditions, such as depression, insomnia, blindness, tinnitus, hives, and a contributing factor to things like Alzheimer’s and MS. It’s best to stay away from all types of sugar- both real and artifical sweeteners.
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Light Foods and Beverages

If you’re calorie conscious you might be attracted to products that are advertised as Lite or Light, since they’ll have fewer calories than their regular counterparts. But what you’re trading the calories for is typically artificial sweeteners that might be calorie-free but have their own side effects and health hazards. Always remember that real, whole food is best. [/column]
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Diet Colas and Sodas

Diet sodas don’t contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, but in its place are sweeteners like aspartame. Research shows that aspartame is linked to a higher risk of dementia and stroke. Forget the soda and diet soda altogether and stick with water or unsweetened herbal tea. Check out our article on how to stay hydrated without soda. [/column]
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Packaged Diet Snacks

Many of these snack packs come in 100 calorie sizes, which appeals to many dieters. But you should always choose whole foods over packaged or processed foods. This is because they are higher in nutrients to heal the body and promote weight loss. Even at 100 calories, you are still putting junk in your body when you choose packaged diet snacks. [/column]

Turkey Bacon


Think that turkey bacon is a healthy alternative to that of the pork variety? Think again. While choosing turkey bacon may shave a few calories off your meals, it's often loaded with artificial colors, sodium, saturated fat, and nitrates, which the International Agency for the Research of Cancer has deemed "probably carcinogenic."

Fast Food Nation

Our culture has become increasingly dependent on eating food prepared outside the home. For many children, this means eating fast food like hamburgers and french fries regularly. According to an article in "Pediatrics," more than 30 percent of children studied ate fast food at least once a day. Unhealthy foods like those found in fast food restaurants have excessive calories in the form of fat and sugar, as well as unhealthy levels of sodium. Foods high in fat and sugar are directly linked to childhood obesity and a number of accompanying health problems.

Worst & Unhealthy Foods For Kids

French fry and potato chips

French fry is a very popular food in the world among children as well as adults. But it is not a healthy food, and it has a little nutritional value. It contains a high amount of trans-fat and sodium which cause bad impact to kid’s health. If kids eat French fry regularly, they may lose interest to eat other vegetables because it changes the taste pattern of kids. French fries are prepared in high temperature, and this kind of starchy food is responsible for growing some toxin which causes cancer. The Same caution goes for potato chips also as they are much similar kind of foods. So, potato chips are also unhealthy for kids to eat.


Honey is considered as a healthy food among people. Sometimes it is seen as a medicine for various diseases. But it is not when feeding it to small children. You should not give your children honey if they are under two years old. Honey contains poisonous toxicant bacteria. These bacteria cause botulism. The primary syndromes of this disease are vomiting, getting mouth dry, having breathing problem etc. Adult people may not get affected by this bacteria but kids can be easily affected as their immune system is not strong as an adult to fight with the bacteria. So parents are highly recommended to avoid feeding honey to their young kids. The Same prohibition goes for the food products which contain honey fairly.

Fruit snack

Fruit snack sounds like a healthy food but the true thing is that it is nothing but contains a lot of sugar actually. Sometimes it also contains preservative sweetened, artificial colors and no actual fruit is given. Some snacks now say that they are using real fruit but even though this is not healthy because of adding so much sugar. This kind of fruit snack does not have nutritional value more than candy. Sugars are harmful to dental health. They can cause cavities on teeth. So kids should be kept away from fruit snacks. If you want to give your kids the real nutrition of fruits, just let them eat dried real fruits.

Soft drinks and juices

Kids usually like soft drink a lot. It is one of the reasons for kid’s obesity. Soft drinks contain soda which is injurious to health. Most of the soft drinks are high in sugar. Sugar helps to increase fat. It is a matter of fear that fruit drinks contain sugar more than normal soft drinks and kids like this type of juice to drink very much. On the other hand, soda is very harmful to teeth health and stomach. Sometimes soft drinks contain artificial color and sweetened that also damage teeth and it is harmful to kid’s immune system. Instead of taking the soft drink, try natural fruit juices for your kids. Even only water is effective for your kid’s health as it has necessary nutritional values.You can also read Health Problems Due To Soft drinks

Candies and lollipops

There are no kids who don’t like to eat candies and lollipops. But you may not know how these types of foods are responsible for having the bad effect on kid’s health. Candies and lollipops are just loaded with sugar and artificial colors to make them tasty. So kids are fond of candies and lollipops but these tasty foods have a little amount of nutritional value. Sugary foods are not good for dental health. They can cause cavities. Another thing is that eating candies and lollipops changes the taste behavior of kids. It may cause unwillingness to take other healthy foods. So should reduce giving candies and lollipops to your kids and make the habit of taking good foods for them.

Breakfast Cereals

One of the most familiar foods among kids is breakfast cereals. But this food contains a little nutritional value with empty calories. You may see on its label that it contains valuable ingredients like fiber and vitamins. But the true thing is that these fiber and vitamins are added artificially when they process the foods. Most of the processing foods are harmful for kid’s health. The form of vitamin D used in processing cereals is not suitable for kid’s body to take. Most of the cereals are high in sugar. Sometimes you can see sugar on label in different form like fructose corn syrup. So you have to find the word “whole” on the label and then check the ingredients. You should buy those products which contain more than 3 gm of fiber and protein and also less than 10 gm of sugar.

Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets are very common food to the people. You can find it available on most of the restaurants. But the bad thing is that this item is common on kid’s menu. Chicken nuggets contain fat more than its fifty percent. But the proportion protein on its fat is less than carbons and this is very harmful for kid’s health. Chicken nuggets are deep fried in oil which may contain a lot of trans-fat. Oily foods are usually not suitable for kids. In addition, trans- fat can cause metabolism problems to kids. Even it can also cause type-2 diabetics. So it is wise to avoid chicken nuggets on kid’s food menus.


This is one of the favorite foods in kid’s list. Pizza shops are very popular in every country of the world. A large proportion of pizza consumers are children. But it is not a healthy food at all. If it is homemade then it’s ok because homemade food generally contains perfect amount of ingredients when shop food does not. So parents should check it carefully. it is high in saturated fat and salt that are harmful for child health. it is a very high-calorie food, a slice of pizza can contain 500 calories. So consumption of it should reduce otherwise it may cause obesity to the child.

Apple juice

All kinds of juice box are nothing but actually loaded with sugar. But when it is about apple juice, you should give more concentration. Some parents think that apple juice is healthier than any other fruit juice but conception is wrong. If kids eat an apple they can get fiber from it but from juice they can’t. Moreover, drinking a cup of apple juice can cost 160 calories. It is a calorie burning fruit which can be effective for adults who want control their weight. But for kids, it does not help that way. Kids need foods which have high nutrition value but apple juice does not contain that value. So, do not keep apple juice item on your kid’s foods list.

Hot Dogs

Hot dog is also a very favorite food to kids. But the matter of sorrow that it contains red meat which is highly processed also. So hot dog is not a healthy food for kids. Containing red meat increases the risk of cancer. When it is from processed meat, the food can be more harmful. Processed meat increases the risk of stroke, diabetics and heart disease. It also contains saturated fat and sodium. The bun’s part of hot dog contains enriched flour and it has few fibers and nutritional values. So regular consuming of hot dog is highly prohibited as it causes bad effect to your kid’s health.

Packaged lunchesf

Packaged lunches are easier to pick for the parents to feed their kids. But this is not a wise thing to buy this because of health issue of your child. Packaged lunches are included with cheese, crackers, deli meats which are high in saturated fat and salt. Sometimes it includes dessert with some artificial nutrients. These kinds of foods are very harmful for your kid’s health. Most of them are provided with less nutritional values. When your kids get foods with lack of the ingredients which are needed for growing up perfectly, they will face difficulty with their health. So it is far better that you make food for your kids and provide them necessary nutritional ingredients.


These are the 11 most unhealthy foods for kids which cause bad effects to your kid’s health. So keep the food items away from your child to ensure their good health. Try to give them homemade food. When you buy foods from outside for your kids, check the ingredients given on the label of a packet and make sure that necessary nutritional values are available on it.

What Do YOU Think?

Have you eaten one of these items thinking they were healthy? What do you think now after reading through the slideshow? Are there other foods people think are "healthy" that you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments!

Have you eaten one of these items thinking they were healthy? What do you think now after reading through the slideshow? Are there other foods people think are "healthy" that you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments!