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Kids’ menus get a healthy makeover

Consumer Reports News: July 14, 2011 05:13 PM

If the kid’s menus at fast-food chains leave you scratching your head—and feeling like a bad parent—here’s good news. This week, more than 15,000 restaurants joined the “Kids LiveWell” initiative and now offer healthier kids’ menu options. Think more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and less trans fats and sodium.

To join “Kids LiveWell,” restaurants agree to offer options that meet qualifying criteria closely tied to the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. The criteria include, offering:

• A children’s meal (an entrée, side, and beverage) with 600 calories or less; two servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and/or low-fat dairy; and limits on sodium, fats and sugar.
• At least one other individual item with 200 calories or less, with limits on fats, sugar, and sodium, plus a serving of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, or low-fat dairy.

Participating restaurants include Au Bon Pain, Burger King, Chili’s Grilll & Bar, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, Friendly’s, IHOP, Outback Steakhouse, and 11 other chains.

Bottom line: Regularly eating fast food has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and stroke, so the menu makeovers are a good first step by the fast-food industry, which is frequently faulted for contributing to children’s unhealthy eating habits. Research shows that when calorie counts are displayed on menus, parents order healthier foods for their kids.

Look for either a Kids LiveWell promotion or an icon used on menus to indicate healthier choices. If you don’t see one, ask a server or manager to help. And talk to your kids about the menu items, encouraging them to swap high-fat, salty items for better-for-you options. Learn more about participating restaurants at healthydiningfinder.com. And see our tips for avoiding temptation at fast-food restaurants.

Sources
National Restaurant Association’s First-Of-Its-Kind “Kids LiveWell” Initiative Showcases Restaurants’ Healthful Menu Options for Children [National Restaurant Association]

Kids LiveWell: About
[National Restaurant Association]

Ginger Skinner

   

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