In my post about coffee cups as billboards, I mentioned that Starbucks is tapping the kids’ market. When I was last at Starbucks, I watched several kids down huge hot chocolates, complete with whip and syrup. And I had to wonder about the implications for their health.

Parents have started lobbying fast food chains for healthier alternatives for their kids. Still, McDonald’s Happy Meals have fallen out of favour. But if kids are now drinking Starbucks hot chocolate, are they better off?

Nope. A McDonald’s small hamburger and fries pack 470 calories and 18 grams of fat. However, if you trade the fries for mandarin orange segments, you’re now looking at about 250 calories and seven grams of fat. Not exactly health food, but not such a bad choice.

In comparison, a Starbucks hot chocolate has 450 calories and 24 grams of fat. Yikes!

In the age of kids’ smoothies, Super Big Gulps, and hot chocolates, I wonder how many parents — let alone kids — realize their kids are ingesting the equivalent of entire meals. The fast food chains may be providing alternatives, but parents who’d never given their kids a Happy Meal may be providing the same fare in a cup. Stay tuned for more kiddie drinks at your beverage shops.

(c) 2005 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.