In the United States, Wendy’s is the latest fast-food chain to remove the carbonated soft drinks option from kids’ meal menus.
Parents driving to a pick-up window at Wendy’s won’t see soda as an option on the menu board, but if they decide to order one, they won’t be turned down.
The fast-food chain is the most recent to cave in to pressure from children’s health advocacy groups. McDonald’s made a similar commitment to drop soda from Happy Meals in 2013, after partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group aimed at fighting childhood obesity.
The move, which is already in effect, was hailed by MomsRising.org, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, all of which have been urging the chain to improve the nutritional quality of its kids’ meals by removing soda from the kids menu.
The groups say that soda is not an appropriate beverage choice for children, given that sugary drinks contribute to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, tooth decay, and other health problems in children and adults. Drinking just one additional sugary drink every day increases a child’s odds of becoming obese by 60%, according to research published in The Lancet.
The Center for Science in Public Interest released a statement saying that Wendy’s was removing the soda option from menu boards and kids’ meals. The statement said they hoped Wendy’s would also offer healthier choices, ‘including whole grain rolls, offering more fruit and vegetable options, reducing sodium across the menu, and dropping Frostys from the children’s menu’.
“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. “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.”
“Ensuring that our children can make healthy choices is an important part of raising them,” said MomsRising executive director and CEO Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner. “When restaurants offer up sugary drinks as the default choice, it undermines those efforts. MomsRising and its members are delighted that Wendy’s is now supporting parents in encouraging children to make healthy food choices.”
In an e-mail to the USA TODAY Network, Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy’s said: ‘Unlike some fast-food chains, Wendy’s default drink choice was never soda.
“When ordering a kids’ meal, the customer is asked what beverage they prefer,” Bertini wrote. “The change is the kids’ meal beverage options which are shown on our menu boards.”
Bertini said the fast-food company began displaying images of ‘healthful beverage options,’ including 1% white or chocolate milk, bottled water and 100% juice.
He said the kids’ meal soft drink option no longer appears on the chain’s menu boards, inside the restaurants, at the pick-up windows or on the mobile app in the US and Canada.
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