A study found 72 percent of QSRs offer children’s meal combinations under 600 calories.
In an effort to keep up with today’s growing health trend, restaurants are offering more low calorie and health conscious options than ever before. But now, large restaurant chains are narrowing in on cutting calories for one specific consumer group—kids.
According to an article in QSR Magazine, QSRs across the country are working to make their kids’ meals healthier. A study in the April issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior looked at the 2014 menus of ten major fast food brands, including Dairy Queen, Burger King and McDonald’s, and ten full-service restaurants to analyze their healthy menu items. It found that 72 percent of QSRs and 63 percent of full-service chains offered kids’ meals under 600 calories.
That’s a good sign for the restaurant industry—lower calorie options with appropriate portion sizes for children are the first step in creating healthy menus.
Christina Economos, an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told QSR magazine, “We know that overall obesity is related to energy-in and energy-out, so a really important first step is to make sure that the portions are correct and that the amount of food that children are consuming at meals throughout the day is appropriate for growth development.”
There’s still room for QSRs to improve—calories and portion sizes aren’t the only factors that contribute to overall health. Fat, saturated fat and sodium are other standard measurements that need to be considered in order for menus to truly be considered healthy. The study found that only 31.9 percent of QSRs and 21.7 percent of full-service restaurants met the health standards for all of those variables. That means restaurants need to build on their low calorie foundations in order to serve healthy meals, especially for kids.
“I can’t speak for decisions that restaurants make, but from a public-health perspective calories are a really good place to start because it’s easy to reformulate and work on portion sizes, but we really want to see additional changes toward all nutrients within food,” said Economos.
Click here to read the original QSR Magazine article.