Restaurants join forces so kids can 'live well'
July 14th, 2011
10:30 AM ET
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Burger King and Chili’s are among the 19 restaurant chains that are voluntarily limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium in children's meals.

The National Restaurant Association kicked off its new "Kids LiveWell" campaign on Wednesday in 15,000 locations nationwide.

The other participating restaurants include: Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burgerville, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, Friendly’s, IHOP, Joe’s Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-Bones Great American Eatery and zpizza.

Those restaurants involved in the "Kids LiveWell" campaign must:

  • Offer at least one full children’s meal (an entrée, side and beverage) that is 600 calories or less; contains two or more servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and/or low-fat dairy; and limits sodium, fats and sugar.
  • Offer at least one other individual item that has 200 calories or less, with limits on fats, sugars and sodium, and contains a serving of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein or low-fat dairy.
  • Display or make available upon request the nutrition profile of the healthful menu options.
  • Promote/identify the healthful menu options.

Despite its recent launch, the healthy initiative has already been met with a side order of skepticism. Margo G. Wootan, Director of The Center for Science in the Public Interest, released a statement suggesting while the "Kids LiveWell" is a step in the right direction, one healthy menu offering just isn't enough.

"Most restaurants already offer one or two healthy choices—but they are present amidst a minefield of high-calorie, salty, high-fat options. The great majority of choices on children’s menus should be healthy, given that kids are getting one-third of their calories outside the home, and eating out is linked to obesity."

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Filed under: Bite • Chain • Childhood Obesity • Health News • Kids in Restaurants • News • Restaurant News • Restaurants

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Aisha

    for the snacks you can visit:

    July 21, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  2. ratchet5

    The major problem is that no one wants to get off their asses and do anything anymore! 60 years ago people actually had to get up and work their butts off everyday, so a breakfast of bacon, eggs and pancakes gave them the fuel to do so! Nowadays parents are lazy as heck, plant their kids in front of the TV or video games and feed them the crap that takes 5 minutes or less to cook,including take out!! Like a previous poster said, u can eat anything in moderation, as long as u MOVE!! I love that they are offering more healthy options, as they should with adults! But no matter how healthy the restuarants try to feed us, if all u do is go eat and then sit on your bum, u will gain weight!! Take your children outside to play, let them ride their bikes, play catch and hit a ball! Its not rocket science! If u burn the calories u take in, then weight won't be an issue!! And if u take the extra 30 minutes to actually prepare a meal most days, chicken nuggets and french fries aren't going to cause your child any problems 3-4 times a month!

    July 17, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Noxious Sunshine

      Exactly! My daughter & I stay active. She gets bored with tv anyway, so we're outside a lot.. But seriously, if parents feed their kids yummy healthy food from the get-go, then their kids will -want- to eat the good stuff & prefer it over junk...

      July 17, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  3. Noxious Sunshine

    My 3 yr old actually prefers healthy food over junk when it comes to dinner. Among her favs are fresh, raw broccoli, sliced tomatoes, tofu (she'll eat it straight out of the box), & other fruits & veggies. Of course she asks for a swert treat every now & then, but she doesnt freak out if I say 'no'. @ a bday party we attended, she was 1 out of maybe 3 kids who wasnt obese. When it was time for cake & ice cream, she ate just 1/4 of her cupcake, & didnt want ice cream at -all-. She snacked mostly on cherry tomatoes, cheese & crackers & carrot sticks.

    I'm glad restaurants are offering mire healthy options for kids. I work @ a Logan's roadhouse, & while there are many unhealthy choices, there are also plenty of good things on our kids menu – steak tips or grilled chicken (order it 'health nut' style with no butter/oil or seasoning & 'Health Nut' style broccoli or a kids' side salad with romaine lettuce instead of the iceberg mix, and add carrots. No dressing or use the fat-free vinaigrette). A grilled vegetavle skewer with zucchini, tomato, onions, & mushrooms is also available for 99¢ extra.

    July 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  4. Baker Boy

    I appreciate them doing this, but I wish kids would LEARN HOW TO *COOK* A HEALTHY MEAL THEMSELVES.

    Saying to them, "Eat healthy", showing them how to eat healthy, and teaching them how to cook healthy are whole different subjects. America is a land of a lot of culinarly inept people that prefer premade and fast food over cooking for themselves. People have become so distant to food these days; they don't want to make it, they want to eat it.

    You know what they say...

    “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

    July 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  5. Heather

    I've been seeing more and more healthy options available in kids meals and I appreciate that. I allow my kids to pick whatever they like off the menu because unlike the statistics given in the story, going out to eat is a once or twice a week treat in our family and home meals are well balanced. My kids don't always pick the fruit or veggies over the fries, but sometimes they do and I'm glad it's offered, especially if we are traveling and have to eat out more often.

    And before the typical CNN twerps jump on me for allowing my kids to have fries occasionally, I will only say that my kids are all slender and I have no respect for the opinions people who do not respect the saying, "ALL things in moderation" so save the wear on your keyboard.

    July 15, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • AleeD


      July 15, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  6. Josh

    Too bad that Perkin's isn't on the list.

    I can stand in my local Perkin's parking lot, and see their three competitors, Carrabba’s, Friendly's, and Burger King, and ALL of them signed up. And while not in sight, just over the hill is yet another competitor, Outback, and they signed up too.

    Come on Perkins, get with it !

    July 15, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  7. Wayne

    Nutritional fat is not the cause of obesity or health problems. Grains are the problem.

    July 15, 2011 at 5:39 am |
  8. Eduardo

    If you want to be healthy, how about staying out of these places at all?

    July 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Roberto R.

      Thank you!!!!!!!! Stop eating at restaurants, people. They're not nearly as healthy as eating a moderate portion at home. Sorry folks, it's true.

      July 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  9. Reesagirl

    When we take our 3 year old out to eat, I'll either order something for she and I to split, or we ask to customize a kids menu item; pair steamed broccoli (one of her favorite foods) and apple slices with chicken fingers. We encourage her to eat things that will make her "healthy and strong and grow big" and to try a lot of different foods. Yes, she gets treats too, but by focusing on what's healthy and helps you grow she's more apt to eat broccoli or avacado than crackers. True story, she one night asked for the steamed broccoli on my plate over Nana's offer of pudding!!!!!

    July 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  10. Jeanine

    Research has shown that kids shouldn't be eating low fat but they should restrict their carb intake. It's the excessive carbs that are adding the pounds on. Eggs, butter, leafy vegetables, good fruits and good meat with full fat milk is a good healthy diet for a growing child who needs the fat for their brain growth. These kids are hungry by eating all the junk carbs and that's why they inhale them. The USDA Food Pyramid is totally wrong and based on junk science.

    July 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  11. Cindy

    Red Robin not only gives kids a choice in terms of entrees, but they also have a wide variety of sides, including raw carrots and dip, as well as salad.

    July 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Josh

      My kid always orders their celery or salad, as his side.

      July 15, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  12. larry

    If this is promoted by the government and big business then get ready for a dog and pony show and little else. They can't possibly guarantee the absence of MSG, corn sweeteners, GMO's and harmful chemicals and ingredients and still make the profit they expect.

    July 14, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • I want da gold!

      Why, on God's green Earth, would you want the absence of MSG, or as I call it, magic dust? That stuff is great!

      (And before you spit out the tired old "it's bad for you" cr@p, do a little research on it and see for yourself it has not been proven to do anything but make you thirsty and retain a little more water temporarily.)

      July 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
      • Kerry

        My wife ended up in the hospital with her blood pressure skyrocketing because of that crap! Don't tell me it's not bad. I HAVE done research. And more than a little! I also know about 20 other people who have problems with it! Why don't YOU do a little research instead of spouting half truths and hearsay!

        October 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
    • AleeD@I want da gold!

      I hope you sparked up a firestorm. ;)

      Just waiting for the "I've got allergies and I could die ..." posts. In 3 ... 2 ... 1

      July 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  13. a. peay

    The children are 100 percent of the future let's try to feed them well

    July 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  14. Leo

    If we feed kids nothing but junk food while they're young, they'll grow up with an appetite for nothing but junk food. Youth is the time to introduce them to healthy eating habits. My mother served real food at home, with fresh fruits and vegetables (and FYI, we were poor), and I grew up knowing how to eat healthy.

    And it's true – in most restaurants, kids' menus have the same horrible choices available. Kids come to regard these food choices as "for kids." If we get kids to believe that the healthy menu items are "for kids," then they'll learn to eat the healthy items.

    July 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  15. MoodyMoody

    Anybody else note that McDain's in PA isn't on this list?

    July 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  16. jillmarie

    Great ideas for reforming kid's menus! As a mom-to-be, I get disgusted by seeing such unhealthy choices for children. I'm not going to be the type of parent who lets them eat junk or drink soda all the time. I may just order off the children's menu myself- the portions are actually correct for adults, sad as that seems.

    July 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  17. Kay

    Rebecca is so right. I HATE taking my son to any restaurant because the kids menu has the same items everywhere. Sure, if you go to an italian place, they'll add "spaghetti and meatball" but they all have burgers, fried chicken fingers and fries fries fries. UGH! Besides, by the time they eat a little salad and a ton of bread/crackers, they aren't hungry when their pile'o grease arrives.....thank goodness!

    July 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Les

      I'm a waitress, and what makes a good parent stand out to me when I wait on them is when they say "oh, we don't need the kids menu, our kid eats what we eat". When did this idea arise that kids food means crappy food? Why shouldn't the "kids menu" at restaurants just be smaller portions of the main menu? I always ate what my parents had, as did most of my friends growing up. We were all pretty healthy and athletic. I think it makes a big difference. If you don't want to spend the money on a whole entree for each of your kids, try ordering a few sides or ordering your food family style so everyone can share. It makes a world of difference! I'll also note that the kids who share with their parents are always more well behaved than their picky, shrieking counterparts.

      July 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  18. Rebecca

    I'm excited about this, if only because I would like to see a kid's menu that doesn't revolve around the same four foods: grilled cheese, pizza, chicken fingers and mac n cheese. With fries.

    July 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Deanna

      Great comment! If anyone should be eating healthy it's our children. I'm not feeding my kid crappy hot dogs and "chicken" nuggets. No thanks.

      July 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
      • brando

        gee, i envy your kids.

        July 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • chefdugan

      I would like to see some responsible parents – you know the kind that walk not waddle.

      July 15, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  19. Truth

    I love that picture...

    July 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • I want da gold!

      That's the truth! I most definitely would...

      July 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  20. dawn

    Obesity is the number one reason our healthcare system is in such crappy shape. Other things have contributed sure, but they PALE in comparison to the damage caused by a population full of gluttonous, lazy fat slobs. If the healthcare system were allowed to refuse to treat the obese for obese related problems, then all these other problems with healthcare would go away.

    Herding these cows into WHAT you want them to eat isn't going to do it.

    July 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Dusk

      You are either being sarcastic or are completely out of touch with society. I can't honestly tell which it is. Great way to fix the health system just refuse all the unhealthy people! No more costs. No more ethical dilemmas. Yay problem solved!
      Obesity is a major health issue, but it is hard to say that that is the biggest problem. Infrastructure and overhead is a big problem that few people talk about. US spends 40% more on personnel not providing care to patients in the medical field than any other industrialized country.

      July 15, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • LEB

      If the heathcare system addressed and treated the root causes of obesity, then obesity and obesity-related health problems would be greatly reduced. VERY often, a person who has a severe weight problem has become that way because they have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives... sexual abuse, abusive parents, losing a parent as a child, a debilitating injury, the death of a spouse or a child, etc. Try asking someone who has lost a lot of weight and is keeping it off what made them gain it in the first place, and you'll almost always hear a story about something terrible that they had to live through.

      Obesity doesn't just happen because people feel like eating too much. Overeating to the point of illness is every bit as much of an eating disorder as the starvation disorders, and the most common root cause of both is untreated mental illness. It is not normal for a person to WANT to abuse their body. The normal, stable outlook is to want to be healthy, not sick. So when you are intentionally doing things to make yourself sick, then there's a lot more going on than simply overindulging on chocolate cake. The sooner we as a society understand this, the sooner we can begin to get a hold on this epidemic and start reversing its progression.

      July 15, 2011 at 6:56 am |
      • Dr.Phil

        I recommend that we put you into a padded room with Lady Gaga-Traumatizing.

        July 15, 2011 at 7:04 am |
    • chefdugan

      Our only comfort is that all of those ugly people will die sooner and by doing so help clean up the planet.

      July 15, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  21. killallthewhiteman

    How about we just increase the taxes for parents who have overweight children?

    July 14, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Hillary Cl!nt0n

      Even I don't want that much government in my home!

      July 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Josh

      Tax by the pound? :D

      July 15, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • chefdugan

      Better yet throw them in jail! You would not believe the number of grossly overweight adults and kids we have in our community. The adults are sickening and the kids are beginning to mirror them. There is no cure for ignorance.

      July 15, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  22. RichardHead

    Oh Yea,Pick on the little kids–take away all their sugar and fried foods.

    July 14, 2011 at 10:56 am |
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