The past few days have brought news from the fast food and packaged food industries, highlighting actions to increase healthy food options for children.
First, the National Restaurant Association announced The Kids Live Well initiative. More than 15,000 restaurants representing 19 chains have already signed on, with more expected to join in the coming months. For a list of participating restaurants, click here. Participants in the initiative are expected to:
–Offer at least one children’s meal (entrée, side, beverage) that is 600 calories or less; containing two or more servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and/or low-fat dairy; and limiting sodium, fat and sugar;
–Offer at least one other individual item that has 200 calories or less with limits on fat, sugar and sodium, and contains a serving of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein or low-fat dairy;
–Display or make available the nutrition profile of the healthful menu options; and
–Promote the healthful menu options.
In addition, to avoid federal regulation being imposed, some of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies including Kraft, Kellogg, Nestle, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have come together through self-regulation to restrict the kinds of products they advertise and market toward children. A number of food types including juices, dairy products, grains, soups and meals will have limits on the amount of calories, sugar, sodium and saturated fat allowed in foods promoted to children. As it stands, the recipes of about one-third of all food beverages would have to change or the companies will not be able to advertise those products after December 31, 2013.
These recent actions by the fast food and food products industries are positive steps to offer healthier options for customers.