Are Fast-Food Restaurants Keeping Their Promises to Offer Healthier Kids’ Meals?
To address public health concerns about the negative impact of children’s fast food consumption, some of the largest U.S. fast-food restaurants – McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s, KFC, and Dairy Queen – have pledged to remove sugar-sweetened fountain drinks from menu boards and/or offer healthier drinks and side dishes with kids’ meals. In the current study, researchers evaluated implementation of healthier kids’ meal pledges by analyzing: (1) kids’ meal drink and side items listed on restaurants’ websites; (2) kids’ meal drink and side items listed and pictured on menu boards and featured on signs inside and outside restaurants; and (3) drinks and sides offered by restaurant personnel at the point-of-sale with kids’ meal orders. The study found that in 2016 kids’ meal menus posted on restaurants’ websites consistently reflected their pledges and that individual restaurants at all chains consistently listed healthier drink options on kids’ meal menu boards inside the restaurants. However, not all individual restaurants removed sugary soda and other soft drink options from kids’ meal menu boards. In addition, while most restaurants visited listed at least on healthier side item on kids’ meal menu boards, restaurant chains varied in how often staff offered healthier sides with kids’ meal orders. Restaurants with publicly available healthier kids’ meal policy statements were more likely to offer healthier drinks and sides with kids’ meal orders.
Published: August 2017
ID #: CAS034
Publisher: University of Connecticut, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
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