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 time. In the first study, a market research firm will conduct audits of the sides and beverages offered with kids’ meals in four fast-food restaurant chains (100 sites each) with healthy kids’ meal default policies—McDonalds, Subway, Burger King, and Wendy’s. They will supplement these analyses with examinations of Dairy Queen, KFC, and Panera Bread, which recently started offering healthier sides and/or beverages with their kids’ meals. In the second study, the research team will conduct an online survey of 750 parents of children ages 2 to11 to obtain information about recent visits to fast-food restaurants with their child, including menu items ordered in the last week, and measure changes from 2013. Parents’ attitudes about healthy defaults and the restaurants offering them will also be measured. The team will augment the sample to include at least 100 black and 100 Hispanic parents, and at least 50 parents each who visited Dairy Queen, KFC, and Panera Bread. The team will produce a brief that reviews literature on healthy fast food defaults, presents findings from the two studies, and discusses implications for healthy kids’ meal default policies.
Evaluating Healthy Fast-Food Kids’ Meal Defaults
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
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 … 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