Wendy's Removes Soda Option from Kids' Menu

Joins McDonald's, Subway, and others in move to make meals more nutritious

Wendy's removes soda option from kids' menu
Wendy's, in an effort to make their kids' meals more nutritious, has removed soda from its kids' meals. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

National fast-food chain Wendy's has announced that they will no longer display soda as a drink option with their kids' meals. Instead other, healthier drink options like 1% milk, water, and juice, will be listed on their menus. That doesn't mean that parents can't order soda for their kids with a kid's meal, it just won't be displayed.

For years now, health advocacy groups have been lobbying all fast-food restaurants to make their offerings for children more nutritious.

Changes over the past few years include adding fruit and all white meat chicken nuggets. Wendy's is not the first restaurant chain to make the change -- Arby's, Chipotle, McDonald's, Panera Bread, and Subway do not show soda as an option on their kids's menus.

MomsRising.org, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, have been pushing the chain for the change.

“Wendy’s could further improve its menus for children and adults by serving whole grain rolls, offering more fruit and vegetable options, reducing sodium across the menu, and dropping Frostys from the children’s menu,” said The Center for Science in the Public Interest in a statement.

A Wendy's spokesperson told USA Today, that soda was never just handed out automatically with kids' meals.

"When ordering a kids' meal, the customer is asked what beverage they prefer," Bertini wrote in an email to the newspaper.

"The change is the kids' meal beverage options which are shown on our menu boards."

The CSPI acknowledges that parents should be responsible for what their children order, they feel like fast-food chains should help.

"While parents bear most of the responsibility for feeding their children well, restaurant chains also need to do their part," said CSPI senior nutrition policy counsel Jessica Almy in a statement.

"Restaurants should not be setting parents up for a fight by bundling soda with meal options designed for kids. Wendy's is taking a responsible step forward that will improve children's health and make it easier for parents to make healthy choices for their children. We hope Burger King, Applebee's, IHOP, and other chains follow suit."

Research has found a link between sugary drinks such as soda and obesity and Type 2 diabetes. A 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories. According to the School of Public Health at Harvard University, in 1999 through 2004, kids under age 18 averaged about 224 calories per day from sugary drinks, which was about 11 percent of their daily caloric intake. Between 1989 through 2004, the percentage of children drinking sugary drinks rose from 79% to 91%.

Do you allow your preschooler to drink sugary drinks such as soda? As at once in a while treat, in moderation, that's OK. The problem is when it becomes a habit. There are plenty of healthier drink options to serve your preschooler both at home and when you are on the road. Try some of these ideas. It is also a good idea to talk to your kids as well about the food and drink choices they make.

Your preschooler might be young, but can comprehend the difference between a healthy drink choice and an unhealthy one. Make the choices together, and explain why something like 1% milk or water is much better for them than soda or fruit drinks.

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