Published: July 2020

ID #: CAS059

Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Authors: Harpainter P, Hewawitharana SC, Lee DL, Martin AC, Gosliner W, Ritchie LD, Woodward-Lopez G

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Many quick-service restaurants (QSRs) instituted voluntary kids’ meal default beverage standards (standards) between 2013 to 2017. Little is known about impacts of standards on QSR drive-through practices and on customer choices. This study assessed differences in restaurant practices including kids’ meal beverages shown on menu boards, offered by cashiers, and selected by customers in QSRs with and without voluntary standards. Observations (n = 111) and customer surveys (n = 84) were conducted in 2018 at QSRs with standards (n = 70) and without (n = 41) in low-income California, U.S. neighborhoods. Kids’ meal beverages on menu boards (n = 149) and offered by cashiers (n = 185) at QSRs with and without standards were analyzed using multilevel logistic regression. Significantly more menu boards at QSRs with standards (n = 103) vs. without (n = 46) featured only milk, water or unsweetened juice (65.1% vs. 4.4%; p < 0.001). Most cashiers at QSRs with standards and QSRs without (53.1%, 62.5%) asked what drink the data collector wanted rather than first offering default beverages. A small sample of customer interviews found that customers at QSRs with standards most commonly ordered juice (37.0%); at QSRs without standards, soda (45.5%). Although menu boards showed healthier kids’ meal beverages at QSRs with standards than without, cashier behavior was inconsistent. Results suggest additional measures (legislation, implementation support, enforcement) may be needed to ensure optimal implementation.

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Focus Areas: Beverages, Food Retail

State: California

Keywords: Fast food, Water

Resource Type: Journal Article

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