More than ever, Americans are choosing to eat out or pick up a meal on the way home. Given the ease and the variety of options, it’s totally understandable.
And if you’re also feeding youngsters, it makes sense to go somewhere with a children’s menu.
Here’s something parents may want to consider when choosing a restaurant: What kind of drink comes with that kids’ meal?
Nutrition experts often say their top advice is simple: Don’t drink your calories. They emphasize the added sugar in drinks goes a long way toward our nation’s obesity epidemic. This is especially true in the fight against children’s obesity, as soda, lemonade, sugar-sweetened juice drinks and other beverages with added sugars are taking a toll.
So, for parents, the best move might be avoiding the option. Taking your kids to a restaurant where you know they’ll have healthier choices is both logical and easy … or, at least, easier than it was four or eight years ago.
Researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest began monitoring the food and beverage choices on children’s menu at the top 50 restaurant chains* based on 2008 and published a follow-up report on 2012. Now they’re back with a look at the 2016 findings, although this time they focused strictly on the drinks. The report is called “Soda on the Menu,” and it was released Monday.
* The top 50 is based on revenue. The number of chains in that group with children’s menus varies. In 2016, it was 38. In 2012, it was 41. In 2008, it was 36.
The big takeaway from the new report is that the industry is moving in the right direction, but there’s still a long way to go.
Of the restaurants that included a drink on their children’s menu, the most common item was sugar-filled. The least common? Water.