Every Friday we take my 2-year-old to McDonalds. She loves it. She eats about 1 1/2 cheese burgers (no bun), french fries, and drinks about 1/3 of a strawberry milkshake.

It's fun for us because it's easy and seeing my daughter genuinely enjoying food is rare.

My question is this: are there any health ramifications to eating this type of food once a week?

I'm wondering about the long term risks of things like beef possibly affected by growth hormones, saturated fat from fries, and a blast of sugar every week.

Side note: the rest of her diet is pretty good (i.e. organic when feasible, whole grains, vegetables when she will eat them, decent proteins, and lots of water).

asked 27 Oct '10, 22:49

blue's gravatar image

accept rate: 26%

edited 28 Oct '10, 01:09


I personally have set my goal to avoid McDonalds as long as possible. We'll see how long we can hold out once he's in kindergarten. Which country are you talking about? There may be slight differences in the quality of ingredients in McD food.

(28 Oct '10, 06:46) brandstaetter

+1 Great question

(28 Oct '10, 10:26) Emi

@brandstaetter: we live in the US. I don't know if that makes the food quality better or worse.

(28 Oct '10, 14:09) blue

+1 for holding off one McD @brandstaetter! It's like candy. They start it early enough on their own, no need to encourage it.

(28 Oct '10, 17:01) Alexander

@blue: Austria, where I live, McDonalds actually has very high quality meat (at least they claim so). So, since you already introduced it as a treat, you can continue to do so (as mentioned by others) - just try to make her understand as much as you can that fast food is not the healthiest kind of food. Not everything has to be only the healthiest, though :)

(29 Oct '10, 09:26) brandstaetter

I gave a girl I used to work with who's a nutritionist a call this morning about your question, because I was curious as to her opinion. She said, "If you're giving a little kid 20 meals a week with healthy choices, and 1 fast food meal a week, you really don't have to worry about the fast food. It's a problem when it's fast food once a day, not once a week. Remember, with little kids it's about a balanced diet over a week, not over a meal or even over a day."

We also talked about what Anne and mkcoehoorn were saying. That as long as it's a treat, or something special that you do together, it's okay with her.

Try not to feel guilty, when they're picky eaters, it really is gratifying to see them eat something, even if it isn't the best nutritional choice.


answered 28 Oct '10, 15:35

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

I can't answer this with any official sources or data, but I can say this: I practically grew up on McDonald's -- I ate there at least once a week. I was a very picky eater, and mostly I liked french fries, Coke, and chicken nuggets. I grew up into a reasonably healthy adult -- no significant health or fertility issues, and intelligent. I'm also no longer a picky eater.

(My personal opinion is that if you eat healthy foods most of the time, you're certainly allowed a little treat every week!)


answered 28 Oct '10, 15:00

Anne's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%


+1 for saying its a treat. So long as children see it as a big deal to get fast food, I'm okay with it. But if they take it for granted, and expect to have fast food instead of healthier options, then it has become a problem. Just make sure she views it in the proper light.

(28 Oct '10, 15:07) mkcoehoorn

Did you ever watch "Supersize Me"? It probably is a little sensationalist too but there is at least a true core to it.

A great great series to watch is Jamie Oliver's school dinners. He's a highly decorated chef in the UK. He wanted to make English school dinners better, as they usually serve McDonalds style food only (kids love it, he had to fight them too :). Which actually shows one point: Kids can get used to this kind of food, as yes, it tastes good, because it has so much fat and sugar in it). Take a look at this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKSoiDtdi9s It's a short clip from one of the episodes on what chicken (Mc)Nuggets are made of. Great quote from one of the children in the clip "So that is fake food?" +1 on that! Oh and I just found out, he's also got a US series now: Jamie's Food Revolution. Ran in early 2010.

So personally, even though I enjoy McDonalds too sometimes (like once half a year), would hold off on it. Instead, make your own hamburgers! It is really really easy and fun. I do it all the time. Yes I can't make patties as flat as McDonalds but so what. As Jamie points out in the school dinners time and time again: It is your child. Give her the best food you can, not the easiest to procure.


answered 28 Oct '10, 17:11

Alexander's gravatar image

accept rate: 10%

+1 - Jamie Oliver is a cool dude and I like his message in the US version! (Of the 2 or so episodes I happened upon)

(05 Jan '11, 17:28) JustinP8
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Asked: 27 Oct '10, 22:49

Seen: 13,978 times

Last updated: 28 Oct '10, 17:11