Restaurants can push healthy meals among kids
New York: Contrary to popular belief, more healthy meals for kids were ordered after a regional restaurant chain added more healthy options to its kids' menu and removed soda and fries, says a study.
Including more healthy meals options on the menu didn't hurt overall restaurant revenue, and may have even supported growth, reveals the study done by researchers from Tufts University.
‘Our study showed that healthier children's meals menu options were ordered a lot more often when those options were more prevalent and prominent on kids' menus, highlighting the promise of efforts to shift the status quo and make healthier options the new norm,’ said lead author Stephanie Anzman-Frasca.
Researchers examined the outcomes before and after Silver Diner, a full-service family restaurant chain, made changes to its children's menu in order to make healthier items easier to choose.
After the menu changes, instituted in April 2012, nearly half of the children's entrees ordered were from the healthier kids' meal options (46 percent, compared to three percent before the changes).
The proportion of kids' healthy meal orders that included at least one healthy side also increased dramatically -- from 26 percent before the changes to 70 percent after the changes were made.
Notably, overall chain revenue continued to grow after the menu changes, exceeding that of leading family dining chains during the same time period.
‘Given how frequently kids go to the restaurants, and evidence that this can be linked with consuming excess calories, offering and promoting healthier menu options could play a role in reversing the childhood obesity epidemic,’ Anzman-Frasca added.
The restaurant chain made three main changes to the children's menu: It offered more healthy kids' meals; included healthy side dishes such as strawberries, mixed vegetables, or side salads with all kids' meals by default; and took less healthy options off the kids' menu.
The findings were reported in the journal Obesity.