CAL-HORRIFIC: Study Reveals Unhealthiest Fast Food For Kids

In Western society, obesity in adults and children is on the climb and making headlines across the globe.

According to data from the National Statistics publication of the National Child Measurement Programme, 40.3% of UK children in year 6 are obese.

This led experts at to compare three of the leading UK fast-food chains (KFC, McDonald’s, and Burger King) to see which meals are the most calorific for children.
Chewsy collected the data by analysing the nutritional information provided by each fast-food chain on their website and averaging the sugar, salt, calorie, and fat intake per main meal option, as well as sides and drinks where provided.


With a variety of meals, sides, and drink options to choose from, McDonald’s knocks KFC off the top with a calorie average per ‘Happy Meal’ of 381.71 KCALs.

Falling 5.04 KCALs behind McDonald’s, the nation’s finger-licking favourite, KFC reaches 376.67 KCALS per serving.

Burger King, however, has the lowest average calories for all main meals considered, as their children’s meal average is only 269.08 KCALs per serving.

Daily Average Calorie Intake Consumption

Across all three fast-food chains, out of children aged 7-10, girls and boys aged 7 have the highest daily calorie intake. The daily calorie intake for boys and girls aged 7 is 1,649 and 1,530, respectively. The highest of that average is McDonald’s with 23.14% for boys and 24.94% for girls. Following closely behind is KFC with 22.84% for boys and 24.61% for girls. Burger King sits at just 16.31% for boys and 17.58% for girls**.


McDonald’s has, not only the highest calorific average but also the highest fat content, with 13 grams of fat per serving.
Coming in second, is none-other than KFC’s Colonel Sanders himself at 11.43 grams of fat per serving, only 1.57 grams lower than its rival, McDonald’s.
Finally, Burger King shows the lowest grams of fat per serving (9.83). Across all the three chosen fast-food chains Burger King is the lowest for all four content averages (calories, fat, sugars, and salt).


Chewsy found that out of the three selected fast-food chains, KFC exceeds (20.3 grams) the daily sugar intake of children between the ages of 4 and 6 (19 grams) by 6.8%. KFC also comes close to exceeding the daily intake for children between 7 and 10 (24 grams).
McDonald’s has an average of 4 teaspoons of sugar in their ‘Happy Meals’. They nearly hit the daily sugar intake for children between the ages of 4 to 6 by serving 17.39 grams of sugar on average in each meal.
Out of the three fast-food chains Burger King serves almost half of KFC’s sugar average. Burger King stands at 10.92 grams of sugar, 9.38 grams less than KFC and nearly half the number of teaspoons compared to McDonald’s.


Not only is KFC holding the title for the highest sugar content, but they also hold the highest salt average (1.37 grams). KFC’s average meal constitutes 45.7% and 27.4% of the daily average of salt for 4 to 6-years olds (3 grams) and 7 to 10-year olds (5 grams), respectively.

Following closely behind, McDonald’s stands at 1.29 grams of salt per serving, 0.08 grams lower than KFC.

Again, remaining the lowest of the three fast-food chains is Burger King, with an average of 1 gram of salt per meal serving.

A Chewsy spokesperson has commented on the findings:
“There has always been an obesity problem within the UK and now due to the restaurant and fast food prices being slashed, due to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, parents may be more willing to spend on meal options that are not necessarily healthy for their children.

Our research highlights that it’s especially shocking to see that McDonald’s has the highest daily average calorie intake which should be only 1,530 – 1,649 for children aged 7. It’s clear more needs to be done to get to the real root of childhood obesity. Perhaps overseeing how fast-food restaurants develop children’s meals in compliance with government/NHS nutritional guidelines will ensure that parents remain more vigilant when choosing the meals their children eat. As fast food is still a cheap option for parents, it seems it’s the responsibility of the brand to carefully select meals that are more nutritious and less calorific.”

  • UK’s fast-food chain McDonald’s has the highest average calories at 381.71 KCALs for all kids’ main meals considered.

  • KFC has the highest sugar content (20.3 grams), across all three fast-food chains, the equivalent of five teaspoons of sugar which exceeds the daily amount of sugar for 4 to 6-year olds (19 grams). KFC is also the highest for salt content.

  • Burger King is not only crowned the least calorific but also contains the least amount of sugar and salt.

1. Chewsy looked at nutritional information from McDonald’sKFC, and Burger King. Specifically, they focused on calories, fat, salt, and sugars.
2. The average calories, fat, salt, and sugars were found by adding the meals, sides, and drinks together and diving the total by the number of items offered.
3. Across all three fast-food chains, Chewsygum extracted data for ‘sugars’ and ‘carbohydrate sugars’ which are the same. Burger King was the only restaurant to stipulate ‘fat sugars’ as well as ‘carbohydrate sugars’. However, according to nutritional experts, fat sugars don’t exist, and to maintain consistency and credibility, Chewsygum used sugars only.
4. Chewsy added sides and drinks to McDonald’s main meals to provide averages, whilst Burger King and KFC already had a set menu.

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