Six fast food chains in the US had pledged to include healthier food options for children and a study recently found that while the options were included, they weren’t marketed well at the outlets. This resulted in kids still eating junk. This study conducted by Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut looked at McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Wendy’s, KFC and Dairy Queen for their research.
The restaurants had pledged between 2013 and 2015 to make healthier alternatives available and do away with sugary drinks or at least give an option of a healthier drink. This change was evident on their website but at the outlets the sugary drinks were on the menu. The healthy choices like low fat milk and fresh fruit were made available but the list focused on the unhealthy menu items.
Jennifer Harris, the study’s lead author told CT Post, “The restaurants still have a long way to go in promoting healthier items to parents.” The research was carried out by observing the website food items, menu boards at the outlets of each of the six fast food chains. Mystery shoppers were also included in the study to see whether or not the staff offered the healthier options for the kids meal.
Sugary drinks were offered with the children’s meals on the menu and this was 16-18% of the orders from McDonalds, Burger King and Subway and on the other hand 67% at Dairy Queen. Healthy choices like fruits were rarely offered with 8% of the Burger King staff offering the healthy sides and 22% at Wendy’s. McDonald’s offered 100% healthy alternatives but again in all three chains there were side orders of French Fries.
Nutritionists don’t seem to be quite surprised by the results of this study.
To be honest, I don’t even see healthier options when I go to these restaurants,” said David De Nicola, a registered dietitian at Bridgeport Hospital to CT Post. “In my opinion, it’s all about marketing, and restaurants are going to market what sells.”