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.
Are Fast-Food Restaurants Keeping Their Promises to Offer Healthier Kids’ Meals?
Few research studies have examined the menu items that parents purchase for their children at fast-food restaurants or their attitudes about healthier kids’ meals. The purpose of this research was to document specific menu items that parents reported purchasing for their children at the top fast-food restaurant chains, attitudes about … More
This project will determine whether restaurants have implemented healthier kids’ meal default policies and whether healthy defaults successfully reduce calories and improve the overall nutritional quality of fast-food meals consumed by children. The team will conduct two studies to update research conducted in 2010 and 2013 and measure change over … More
Toddler drinks are a relatively new product category, typically offered by infant formula manufacturers and promoted as beneficial for young children ages 12 months and older. Marketing promotes these drinks as the “next step” after infant formula, using claims that imply unproven benefits for children’s nutrition and health. However, these drinks … More