Restaurants also should offer more fruit and vegetable options, CSPI said, and make them default sides, rather than french fries.
The study’s lead author, Ameena Batada, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Wellness at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, said the chain restaurant industry is conditioning kids to accept a narrow range of foods.
“More chains are adding fruit, like apple slices, to their menus, but practically every chain could be adding more vegetable and whole grain options,” she said.
“And given the impact of sugar drinks on children’s health, those should be eliminated from kids’ meals at restaurants.”
Meanwhile, NRA’s Kids LiveWell program now includes more than 135 restaurant brands representing more than 40,000 locations nationwide, the association said.
The program was launched in 2011 in collaboration with Healthy Dining, a San Diego-based company that promotes healthful lifestyles, to help restaurants highlight their better-for-you menu choices for children.
Participating restaurants agree to offer and promote a selection of qualifying menu items.
The initiative focuses on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting total calories, unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium, NRA said.
A list of participating restaurants and their qualifying items can be found on healthydiningfinder.com, and also via a free Kids LiveWell App.