Hartford, CT – Simply introducing healthier children’s meal options into fast food menus has not resulted in improvements in children’s fast food consumption, recent study results show conducted by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut Spectacle.
Researchers conducted an online survey every three years from 2010 to 2016 to ask nearly 2,100 caregivers who purchased fast food in the past week for a child aged 2 to 11 about their selections. In recent years, fast food chains have embraced voluntary menu changes, such as removing sugary fountain drinks from kids’ meal options and adding sides that include apple slices or yogurt.
The results show that these menu options did not lead to an increase in the selection of healthier choices for children. Overall, 55% of caregivers reported choosing a children’s meal for their child; of these, about half chose a healthier drink (56%) and / or a side dish (50%). Caregivers were more likely to order a healthy meal option for a child aged 2 to 5 than those aged 6 or older, while caregivers were more likely to choose healthy meal options.
Researchers recommend that fast food restaurants consider improving the nutritional quality of all children’s meals, encouraging healthier options through marketing campaigns, and ensuring that workers choose more drinks by default. healthy for children.
“Restaurants need to improve the nutritional quality of everything in children’s meals and do more to encourage the selection of these healthier options inside restaurants,” said study co-author Jennifer Harris. , senior research advisor for marketing initiatives at the center, in the Liberation. âJust removing carbonated drinks from children’s menus will not reduce children’s consumption of other unhealthy fast food dishes by children, nor may it increase the selection of healthier drinks. “
The study was published online May 5 in the newspaper Pediatric obesity.