Here’s a pop quiz for you:

If you have young children at home, which of the following is likely to eat up the larger percentage of your household income?

A. Books and other educational materials

B. DVDs, CDs, music downloads, and trips to the movies

C. Video games

D. Fast food

You’re probably not surprised to discover that the right answer is D. But you might be surprised to discover that, if you’re a parent, you will most likely spend more on fast food this year than on A, B, and C combined.

Restaurants are no more kind to our children’s health and well-being than they are to our own: The typical burger, soda, and fries that you and I ate as kids contains an average of 214 more calories today than that same meal did in the 1970s — enough to add at least 3 pounds of weight a year to your child’s body, even if he or she ate that fast-food meal just once a week.

Indeed, some of the nutritional stats in the foods restaurants are selling as “kids’ meals” are terrifying. A grilled cheese with as much fat as 25 strips of bacon? A child-size dessert with more than half a day’s worth of calories? And the supermarket aisles offer little salvation.

As a result, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled since 1980 — today, 16 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight or obese. An additional 15 percent of kids are “at risk of becoming overweight or obese.”

So I am going to put up these lists of the worst foods for your kids starting with:

Worst sweetend cereal

20. Cap’n Crunch (1 cup)

146 calories

2 g fat (1 g saturated)

16 g sugars

1 g fiber

The Cap’n’s cereal is the archetypal hypersweetened breakfast. It didn’t make our list by its abundance of fat or calories; it made the list by being among the dominant sources of empty calories in a child’s diet. Aside from the small amount of added vitamins, which are mandated by the government, this cereal is a food scientist’s concoction of worthless foodlike particles and chemicals. Corn flour makes up the bulk of each crunch, and sugar, brown sugar, and coconut oil hold it together. This cereal is also coated with loads of the food colorings yellow 6 and 5, which have been linked to irritability and poor behavior in children.

Eat this instead!

Cascadian Farm Clifford Crunch (1 cup)

100 calories

1 g fat (0 g saturated)

25 g carbohydrates

6 g sugars

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