Despite Fast Food Chains Offering Healthier Kids Meals, Parents Aren’t Buying Them

Despite having healthier options, parents still buy their children unhealthy meals.

Despite healthy options being available for kids meals, fast food restaurants are not seeing parents buy them.
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Despite having healthier options, parents still buy their children unhealthy meals.

The convenience of going to a fast food chain such as Burger King or McDonald’s to pick up a quick and easy kid’s meal for your child is something a busy parent enjoys taking advantage of. Unfortunately for fast food joints, it has also resulted in them becoming the target for blame as it pertains to the increase in childhood obesity, NBC News details. In an attempt to appease the masses and to fend off that blame, many establishments have begun to offer healthier menu choices — including healthier alternatives for their kids meals.

For example, if you go to McDonald’s and get a kids meal you can get the cheeseburger (or chicken nuggets) with a small container of fries — as well as your choice of extra fries, a yogurt, or apple slices. In the beverage department, you have the option of getting a soda, juice, or milk.

The results of a recent study conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut suggest that while these healthier options are now available — parents are still buying the extra fries and soda instead of the milk, juice, or apple slices. Out of the 871 parents that participated in the study, 91 percent admitted to taking their children for at least one meal in the past week to one of four major fast food chains including Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, and Wendy’s. This was up from the 79 percent polled from a similar survey about six years ago.

While all four of those restaurants have made an effort to offer healthier choices on their kid’s menus, only 26 percent of the parents who participated admitted to actually buying the healthier choices for their children.

The survey was unable to determine why the percentage of parents buying healthier choices was so low considering those same parents noted “healthy” was a factor they used to decide what to get their child to eat.

“Although the restaurants now have more healthy options, and are taking the unhealthy drinks off the menu boards, parents aren’t getting the healthier options,” Jennifer Harris, the lead author of the study, told NBC News.

“Fast-food restaurants smell like french fries, they have soda logos and photos of burgers and desserts. It’s not easy to select the healthier option.”

Harris believes restaurants could do more to help parents with this issue. While offering healthier choices on the kid’s menu is a great start, what she believes would really help is if the restaurants in question removed unhealthy choices from the kid’s menu entirely.