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Health and Fitness News

Kid-Tested, Mother Disapproved

A peek at the money-making world of kid-friendly foods.

Lining grocery store shelves are foods marketed to a coveted audience without the means to make a single purchase. Who is this targeted demographic? Children.

Drawn to bright-colored packages covered with cartoon characters, kids are some of the easiest to market to. And while these kid-targeted foods may advertise vitamins, minerals, protein, or whole grains, they are likely filled with added sugar; sodium; and artificial colors, flavors, and ingredients. Give in once, and your kids will be begging for more.

But you want your children to be healthy and to get the best start in life possible. And you know that the foods and drinks they consume play a role in their physical and mental health now and in the future. So how can you know if a kids’ food is healthy or something you should keep out of your house? By knowing what to watch out for.


They’re brightly colored, sweet, and come in fun shapes, but many kids’ cereals are often filled with ingredients that do anything but give them a good start to the day. Sure, they may be fortified with vitamins and minerals, but they are often low in fiber, high in refined carbs, and high in added sugars.

Experts say that kids should consume no more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugar in a day. However, one cup of kids’ cereals easily contains half that much. To make sure your kids don’t go overboard first thing in the morning, only buy cereals made with 100-percent whole grains, fewer than 7 grams of added sugar, and at least 4 grams of fiber per serving.


Juice is made of fruit, so you may think it can’t be bad for your kids. Unfortunately, many types of juice are made of mostly water, corn syrup, sugar, and fruit flavors. These are extremely high in added sugar and contain little to no nutritional value. In fact, one serving of some juices contains more sugar than a child should have all day long! While juices made with 100-percent fruit juice are a better option, they still contain a lot of sugar and should be limited.

Hot Dogs

They’re easy to fix and kids love them, but hot dogs are the leading cause of choking in children under the age of 3. If not chewed properly, the size and consistency of hot dogs can easily block airways. Hot dogs are also made of processed meats and most varieties contain high amounts of nitrates and nitrites, chemicals known to cause cancer.

Toaster Pastries

Made of refined flours, sugar, flavorings, and (possibly) a small amount of real fruit, toaster pastries are many kids go-to breakfast food. But with 32 grams of sugar in two pastries, this sweet treat of a breakfast provides little to no nutritional value and quickly puts your child over their sugar limit for the day.

Prepackaged Lunches

They may make packing lunches quick and easy, but prepackaged lunches are far from healthy for your children. Crackers, deli meat, cheese, and maybe a couple cookies can’t be that bad for you, right? Well…

It’s recommended that youngsters eat fewer than 2,300 mg of sodium a day, but one Lunchable may contain up to 1,100 mg. Still not convinced to toss the prepackaged lunches? Take a look at the extremely long list of ingredients found on a Lunchable package and you’ll realize it’s not a food you want your kids to consume on a daily basis. In fact, the deli meat and cheese are likely not made of 100-percent meat or cheese.

Boxed Macaroni and Cheese

Kids love macaroni and cheese, but you should avoid certain types of boxed macaroni and cheese. It may be easier and quicker to make, but watch out for brands of mac and cheese that are high in sodium and made with processed cheese that contains artificial colors and flavors.