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Voluntary healthy eating options for children in fast food restaurants are unlikely to lead to the purchase of more nutritious foods

According to a new study, fast food restaurants’ voluntary policies aimed at expanding healthy eating options for children do not increase the likelihood that parents will buy healthier meals for their children. Hmm. Credit: Shutterstock

According to a new study by Rad Center, despite a voluntary restaurant policy to improve the nutrition of some items in fast food kids meals, kids meal purchases and healthier kids meal drinks Choices did not increase after the introduction of the policy Food Policy and Obesity at Connecticut University.

“Our research shows that voluntary, healthy children’s dietary policies at fast food restaurants did not improve children’s fast food consumption. They have more calories than regular menu items. Purchasing less children’s meals and choosing drinks for healthier children’s meals will not increase after implementation, “said Yun, a researcher at the Rad Center and a key co-author of the study. Dr. Choi said.

Results of a study published today in the journal Childhood obesityHelp inform policy efforts to improve the nutritional value of children’s diets in restaurants. More than one in three children in the United States eat fast food on certain days, and studies show that fast food intake contributes to increased calorie, additional sugar, sodium, and fat intake. I will.

In recent years, in response to public support efforts, fast food restaurant chains across the country have offered healthier side dish options such as apple slices and yogurt, and removed sweet fountain drinks from children’s meal menu boards. We are developing voluntary policies such as drinking. A new study looks at what parents ordered from their children (ages 2-11) before and after four top fast-food restaurant chains, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Subway, adopted a voluntary policy. .. The result was clear. After the restaurant announced a healthier children’s dietary policy, purchases of healthier products did not increase.

An online survey found that in 2010, 2013 and 2016, at least one child between the ages of 2 and 11 (total of 2,093 participants) had lunch or dinner for their child at one of four fast-food restaurants last week. I investigated the caregivers who purchased it. Parents provided detailed information about the items they ordered for their children. The Rad Center previously published the findings in its 2018 report. This report focused primarily on how parents buy fast food for their children and how it changes over time.

In this paper, Rad Center researchers model whether voluntary children’s dietary policies influence the diets of parents’ children and the purchase of healthier drinks, and these dietary aspects. Did.

The main findings are as follows.

  • Overall, 84% of parents of children aged 2-11 reported buying lunch or dinner for their children in one of these restaurant chains the previous week. Fifty-five percent of them report purchasing children’s meals for their children. Of those who purchased children’s meals, 50% chose the healthier side and 56% chose healthier drinks.
  • Caregivers who visit a restaurant with a healthier children’s diet policy are more likely to choose the healthier side, but choose healthier drinks or eat children’s meals. It wasn’t likely to buy (compared to regular high-calorie menu items). After controlling all variables in the model, healthier drink and side choices did not change during the three years investigated.
  • Parents’ awareness of their child’s preferences is an important driving force for menu selection. For those who visited McDonald’s, the perception that children prefer healthier drinks and sides was associated with a higher likelihood of choosing those items in their diet. However, their purchases were unaffected by the perceived health status of children’s dietary and beverage options such as milk and 100% juice.
  • Caregivers tend to choose healthy drinks and drinks for toddlers (2-5 years) than children over 6 years old, and female caregivers tend to choose healthy drinks and drinks. did.

Since 2016, at least 15 municipalities and three states have passed legislation requiring healthy default beverages for children’s diets. Similar to restaurant voluntary policies, these state and local laws require restaurants to remove soda from their children’s meal menus, but consumers will be accompanied by children’s meals on demand. You can receive soda at.

“These findings on restaurant voluntary policies require restaurants to provide healthier drinks with children’s diets such as water, milk, and 100% juice by default, a recently introduced state. And also raises questions about the potential effectiveness of local policies, “he says. Jennifer Harris, Senior Research Advisor and Co-author of the Rad Center Marketing Initiative. “Simply removing soda from a children’s diet menu cannot reduce children’s consumption of other unhealthy fast food menu items, nor can it increase their healthier drink choices. Restaurants The nutritional value of all products offered in children’s meals needs to be improved, in order to encourage the selection of healthier options within the restaurant. “

The results of this study suggest that voluntary or statutory policies that require healthier sides and the provision of beverages can actually lead to potential unintended adverse effects. The majority of parents reported that they were more likely to visit fast food restaurants more often for a healthier child’s dietary policy, but within the restaurant, employees decided to go for a healthier drink policy. Nevertheless, it continues to automatically serve sweet drinks with children’s meals, and the majority of kids’ meals and the number of items on the regular menu remain nutritionally poor. The restaurant enhances the nutritional value of all items offered in children’s meals (including main and side dishes), encourages healthier items through marketing inside and outside the restaurant, and restaurant personnel. Should implement the default policy for healthier beverages. Further research is needed to determine what policies are most effective in reducing children’s consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrition foods.


Despite the restaurant pledge, most children receive unhealthy items in their fast food children’s diet


For more information:
Voluntary Healthier Children’s Diet Policy: Are Caregivers Choosing Children’s Diets and Healthier Items for Children? Childhood obesity, Doi.org / 10.1111 / ijpo.12797

Provided by University of Connecticut

Quote: For the purchase of more nutritious foods (May 6, 2021) acquired on May 6, 2021 from https: //medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-fast-food-restaurants- Voluntary healthy eating options in fast food restaurants for children less likely to connect Spontaneous-healthy.html

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Voluntary healthy eating options for children in fast food restaurants are unlikely to lead to the purchase of more nutritious foods

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