Study: Restaurants failing to make kids menus healthy

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

INDIANAPOLIS Ind. (WISH) – Fast food restaurants haven’t significantly improved the nutritional value of their kids menus, according to new research, six years after they pledged to make a change.

Back in 2011, more than 150 restaurant chains with 42,000 locations promised to reduce calories, saturated fat and salt in their kids menu food.

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed no significant change in the restaurant offerings.

The pledge to change menus was part of the Kids LiveWell campaign that required at least one meal and one other item on kids menus meet nutritional guidelines.

The study found that while some restaurants were offering healthier kids menu options, the average kids entrée was still higher than recommended for sodium and saturated fat.

Riely Hospital for Children at IU Health dietitian Brooke Fenneman says the study may be deceptive. She points out the research only looked at saturated fats intake and sodium intake for the average kid.

Fenneman says it’s up to parents to help a child eat healthy.

“The number one way to get kids to eat healthy is to be that example for your children, so we need to start setting examples at home of eating healthy and choosing good options,” Fenneman said. “So when we go out to restaurants and fast food restaurants we need to be able to make those smart choices with them and help them decide — ultimately the parent is the guide for the child.”

Additionally, the study found that no meaningful changes have been made, and sugary drinks still make up 80 percent of kids beverage choices.

Fenneman says the fast food restaurants do have healthy options like apple slices instead of french fries and milk or juice instead of soda or sugary drinks. But it’s up to parents to order the healthier options.