Monday, March 17, 2008

Almost a Half-Cup of Sugar in One Meal!

While out this weekend, I passed by a Subway shop and noticed new posters up that promoted their "Fresh Fit Kids Meals." I didn't have time to stop and read the poster, but did take some time this morning to take a look at the website to see what they're touting as a healthy alterntative for children.

Subway Fresh Fit™ Kids Meals
You no longer have to sacrifice nutrition or flavor when you're short on time. Choose a Mini sub (ham, turkey or roast beef) and pair it with a delicious side, like fresh apple slices or raisins. Then select from 1% low fat white milk or 100% juice for a tasty, better-for-them meal that kids will love.

On the page above, the picture of the meal includes a black forest ham mini-sub, a box of raisins and Minute Maid 100% Juice Fruit Punch.

According to the page featuring the healthfulness of the kids meals, Subway promotes the meal as a better option than McDonald's and Burger King's kids meals.


With negligible differences in calories, it's all about the fat content of their kids meal versus the others' offerings. So if the calories of each are close, but the Subway meal is half the fat, what's keeping the calories similar?


That's right - when you choose the Subway kids meal, you're giving your child more carbohydrate (basically, in the body, sugar).

In fact, after poking around on the Subway website, the nutrition information available reveals the kid's meal noted above is the equivalent of almost 1/2 cup of sugar (after deducting the fiber, the meal provides 86g of digestible carbohydrate - or the equivalent in the metabolism as 21.5-teaspoons of sugar).

Would you willingly sit your child down, offer him/her a bowl filled with 1/2 cup of sugar and a spoon to dig in?

Well, that's basically what you do if you order the kid's meal with a ham mini, raisins and juice box....what Subway is promoting as "healthy" eating for kids!


  1. Great point! To most eyes, that meal would look like a much healthier alternative, but clearly it's not.

    It's nice to see you blogging again. I enjoy your blogs.
    My blog: Kimorexia

  2. And the sad part is that few parents will actually check it out. Jared has put the image of Subway as exceptionally healthful into the public mind. Marketing is really amazing. People are far too trusting of companies with something to gain from their trust.

    Nice post!
    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  3. As long as low-fat is seen as healthy, subway will be pushing carbs in all their foods. The grouping that gives fruit and vegetables equal billing as healthy makes parents think that fruit makes a healthy meal.

  4. The scariest thing is, much of that sugar is not even masquerading as starch! It's right there in the raisins and juice. Juice is a nutritional plaque - ounce for ounce, fruit juice has just as much sugar as Coke. But there are plenty of parents who would never dream of bringing Coke into the house who have no problem stocking the fridge with Minute Maid.

  5. Have you seen the ads for Lunchables? Don't know if they're available in the States as well (probably), but they consist of foods like a prepackaged bagel with turkey and cheese, squeezable low-fat strawberry "yogurt jammers" and fruit punch. They're marketed for kids, of course, and this example in particular contains 62g usable carbs - or 15.5 tsp of sugar. They get the "Sensible Solutions" seal of approval, bc they are low in calories and fat, so many parents consider them a healthy choice. Sad.

  6. Anonymous1:35 PM

    Gardeners, as folks that compost, know the importance of carbon to nigrogen ratios. Has anyone seen this concept applied to the human diet?

  7. I'm so proud of myself that I never got my child hooked on juice. She occasionally gets it for a treat (and I mean "just about never" when I say "occasionally") but she is far more likely to want milk, which she doesn't get very often either. (We eat cheese for dairy calcium.) Instead she has been accustomed to water in her sippy cup. Interestingly, when she wants water, she asks for "drink." If she wants anything else to drink, she calls it by name. I love it.

    I can't seem to get past the whole, "she should have some healthy carbs in her diet" thing with her; I'm incredibly paranoid that I'll mess her up somehow. So she does snack on things like rice cakes. But I try to give other things like cheese equal time.

    FWIW, I don't think there is anything evil about fruit, at least in moderation. OK, being in the condition I'm in, I can't go overboard and I surely should stay away from juice. At the same time, berries and melons and such are lower-carb, and pack a lot of nutrition. Plus, they are evolutionarily adapted to be eaten by random passing animals, unlike seeds and some upper parts of plants, which have evolved to defend themselves from us. Put it this way: I would sooner feed myself or my child a handful of berries than a bunch of raw broccoli, as the latter contains goitrogens. (Cooking the broccoli gets rid of most of them.) Ideally I avoid wheat gluten and soy for similar reasons.

  8. Dana - My daughter has a higher carb tolerance than I do. She therefore gets more fruit than I do. But our diet is similar to what you described in your house. We just eat little to NO grains (we occasionaly eat a slice of Trader Joe's sprouted grain breads - 4 net carbs and FABULOUS for an occasional treat). And we actually live to speak of it. We focus on low sugar fruits mostly and loads of veggies and meat and cheese.

  9. Concerned_Dad8:25 AM

    You guys are crazy... depriving your children of carbs. Any nutritionist will tell you that a healthy diet requires a decent amount of carbohydrates (and juice and fruit, not to mention bread, are some of the best ways to get it). All you mothers that limit your children's diet to the absurd aescetic extremities you read in fad nutrition magazine are really damaging their health. I would recommend a good, academic book on nutrition, available at your nearest library, to clear some doubts.

  10. Concerned_Dad, just what nutritional extreme do you think is being pushed here? Avoiding corn syrup, added sugars, processed foods and white bread? Eating vegetables, meats, dairy and fruit? What of that do you object to? What do you feed your kids, and what are your qualifications? I'm really not trying to be confrontational, but your post makes it clear that you don't know anything about Regina, her education, her research, or even her position. What brought you here, and what is really the basis for your concern?