Written by Margo G. Wootan, D.Sc., and Jennifer Eder, M.P.H., Center for Science in the Public Interest
Soda and other sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories in children’s diets. They provide nearly half of kids’ added sugar intake. They promote obesity, diabetes and heart disease, yet more than three-quarters of the top restaurant chains promote sugary drinks by listing them on their kids’ menus. Moreover, these disease-promoting drinks are usually paired with food that is too high in calories, salt and saturated fat. Our last study showed that 97 percent of kids’ meals at the top chain restaurants are unhealthy.
Why promote obesity to little kids?
With one in three children overweight or obese, it’s time to take sugary beverages off kids’ menus. McDonald’s announced last fall that it will stop listing soda as an option on menu boards for its Happy Meals, joining Subway, Chipotle, Arby’s and Panera, which already dropped sugary drinks from their kids’ menus. But most of the top chains still promote sugary beverages as part of their children’s menus.
Wendy’s is one of the worst offenders. Wendy’s, the fifth largest restaurant chain in the country, offers twice as many sugar-sweetened beverages on the kids’ menu as healthy beverages, stacking the odds against parents who want to feed their kids healthfully. It’s hard to get kids to choose low-fat milk or bottled water when a soda or a Frosty are promoted as options. Promoting these unhealthy drinks sets parents up for fights and negotiations with their kids. Wouldn’t it be nice if Wendy’s made parents’ jobs easier, not harder?
Disease-promoting beverages like Coca-Cola and Pepsi never should have become the default restaurant beverage for adults, let alone children. A 2001 study published in the Lancet found that drinking just one additional sugar drink a day increases a child’s chances of becoming obese. Instead, kids’ meals should be paired with healthy beverages, including
low-fat milk, water or seltzer.
Please take a minute and sign this petition asking Wendy’s to take soda and other sugary drinks off its kids’ menus.
Parents face an enormous uphill battle when it comes to feeding their kids a healthy diet. Wendy’s makes that job harder by promoting sugary beverages on the kids’ menu.
Margo Wootan is the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), one of the country‘s leading health advocacy organizations that specializes in food, nutrition, and obesity prevention. Jennifer Eder is a Nutrition Policy Coordinator at CSPI where she focuses on reducing junk food marketing to children and improving the nutritional quality of restaurant children‘s meals.
Photo provided by Center for Science in the Public Interest.