The most fattening fast food kids meals in South Africa

 ·23 Aug 2015

In May 2015, Professor Hans de Ridder of NWU’s school of biokinetics, recreation and sports science provided research showing that South African children were the third most obese in the world.

South Africa has a significant weight problem, with around one quarter of the population being obese, most notably among South African women, where 38% are obese, and 70% regarded as overweight.

The weight problems  among SA kids can be attributed to poor diets and not enough physical activity, said de Ridder.

One of the biggest contributors to unhealthy eating is fast food, packed with saturated fats, and high carbohydrate and salt content.

South Africa has well over 4,500 local and international fast food franchises in the country, with more brands expected to open up outlets in the future.

Previous data compiled by BusinessTech showed that some of South Africa’s worst offenders provided meals that took up half of an adult’s daily kilojoule needs – with some stretching far past that.

The average amount of kilojoules needed for boys aged seven to ten is 7,600 kJ per day, and for girls its 7,125 kJ. For the RDI percentages below, the median figure of 7,350 kJ was used.

These are the worst meals available from SA fast food outlets for your kids.

Only franchises with children-specific menu items were included – so high calorie chains such as Debonaires and Roman’s Pizza are not included.

It goes without saying that should a child eat from the adult section of the menu, that meal would be far worse on all the metrics listed below. Added treats (ice-creams) and drink replacements (milkshakes, soft drinks) have also not been factored in.

Update: Kauai re-branded and revamped its menu at the time of publication, with no dedicated kids menu items available. A previous version of this article included a menu item that was no longer available in stores.


Nando's kids 2 wings meal

Nando’s 2 Wings and Chips
Kilojoules 1 868 kJ
Fat (g) 23.4 g
Saturated fat (g) 6.8 g
Sodium (mg) 428 mg
Salt (g) 1.07 g
% of RDI 25.4%

Nando’s is another healthier option for kids – with the biggest contributor to the meal’s salt content coming from the chips. The chicken on its own is only 1,202 kJ (16% of RDI).


KFC Kids burger meal

KFC Mini Burger Meal
Kilojoules 2 493 kJ
Fat (g) 17.2 g
Saturated fat (g) 7.4 g
Sodium (mg) 1 164 mg
Salt (g) 2.91 g
% of RDI 33.9%

Recently under the spotlight for its salt content, the KFC kids meal is both high in sodium and swipes off one third of a child’s recommended daily intake. The meal includes chips and a juice box, which also adds to the count.


Steers Brat Pack Burger

Steers Brat Pack Burger Meal
Kilojoules 2 728 kJ
Fat (g) 28.8 g
Saturated fat (g) 5.9 g
Sodium (mg) 1 215 mg
Salt (g) 3.04 g
% of RDI 37.1%

The Steers Bratpack comes standard with a Steers burger, chips and a juice box, and accounts for more than a third of a child’s RDI. The meal, largely thanks to the chips, also has the highest salt content out of all the meals listed.


Wimpy kids cheeseburger

Wimpy Kids Cheeseburger and Chips
Kilojoules 2 821 kJ
Fat (g) 35.2 g
Saturated fat (g) 11.3 g
Sodium (mg) 769 mg
Salt (g) 1.92 g
% of RDI 38.4%

Popular family restaurant and take-away, Wimpy has a wide selection of meals for children. The worst meal on the restaurant’s kids menu is the cheese burger and chips, which contains the most fat out of all the meals presented, and almost 40% of a child’s RDI.

This does not include a drink, so the potential is there for this meal to reach past even the worst offender.

Burger King

Burger Kind Cheeseburger meal

King Box Cheeseburger Meal
Kilojoules 3 094 kJ
Fat (g) 32.1 g
Saturated fat (g) 8.0 g
Sodium (mg) 1 140 mg
Salt (g) 2.85 g
% of RDI 42.1%

Burger King has the second worst meal for kids in South Africa, with its King Box cheeseburger meal wiping over 40% of a child’s daily intake in one sitting. The box contains a cheeseburger, chips and a juicebox.


McDonalds Happy Cheeseburger

McDonald’s Happy Cheeseburger Meal
Kilojoules 3 156 kJ
Fat (g) 31.9 g
Saturated fat (g) 16.0 g
Sodium (mg) 932 mg
Salt (g) 2.33 g
% of RDI 42.9%

The McDonald’s Happy Meal takes the crown as the heftiest kids meal in the country, inching past Burger King for the top spot. The cheeseburger option hits for 3,156 kJ, or almost 43% of a child’s daily intake. It contains chips and a juicebox.

High salt content

On top of the high energy meals listed above, we included salt content, which has again come under some scrutiny in the country.

Research conducted by WASH found that KFC’s chicken burger kids meal in South Africa was one of the saltiest fast foods for children in the world.

WASH’s research, however, did not include some local franchises, focusing only on the international guys.

As the information above shows, the KFC burger in question is in fact only the second-highest in the country for salt content – the top ‘honour’ goes to the Steers Brat Pack meal, which packs over 3 grams of salt per meal.

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults eat less than 5g of salt (a teaspoon) a day.

According to the Heart Foundation in South Africa, experts estimate that salt intake by some South Africans could be as high as 40g of salt a day.

More on food in SA

The most fattening fast-food meals in SA

South Africa’s most fattening beers, wine, cocktails and shooters

One in four South Africans are obese: research

Are you a food addict – or are you just overeating?

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