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Latino kids tend to live in neighborhoods with more access to fast food restaurants and less access to healthier food options, according to Salud America! research.
Regularly eating high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-sodium meals at these restaurants can have devastating long-term health impacts, such as obesity, heart disease, and more.
In an effort to combat these worsening trends, some of the largest fast-food restaurant chains pledged to offer healthier meal options on their kids’ menus.
Some pledged to remove sugary drinks, and other pledged to add healthier options.
Were they able to keep their promises?
Fast food study
The Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, a nonprofit research and public policy organization based out of the University of Connecticut, examined the kids’ menus of six major restaurant chains in 2016.
What did they find?
Mostly, good news.
According to the research, kids’ meal menus posted on the restaurants’ websites in 2016 “consistently reflected” the pledge for healthier menus for kids.
Most restaurants listed healthier drinks on their online menus – including low-fat milk, 100% juices, and water – but not all of them removed sugary beverages and soft drinks from their menus at the physical restaurants.
More good news, all of the restaurants that were surveyed offered at least one healthier side item (usually apple slices or applesauce).
“At least now there is an option to get something that’s lower in sugar and calories for your child than you could before,” Jennifer Harris, lead author of the study and director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center, told USA Today. “A lot of parents go to fast-food restaurants because it’s convenient, so if you’re going to do that, at least you can get something healthier for the (children).”
However, the bad new is that mystery shoppers found that one-third or more continued to list soda and other sugary drinks on their kids’ menu boards, and staff continued to offer soft drinks and soda with kids’ meal orders, USA Today reported.
“They have added the healthier options…but they are not really encouraging parents to purchase those options when they’re in the restaurants,” Harris said.