“Kids Live Well” Initiative Introduces Healthier Choices at Restaurants

@NickWestbrooks

At a time when one in three children is obese, parents and children will now have healthier choices when they visit restaurants, and parents will have access to the nutritional information of the foods their kids are eating.

The National Restaurant Association, in collaboration with Healthy Dining, introduced the “Kids Live Well” initiative at the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Dawn Sweeney, the President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, described “Kids Live Well” as “an initiative that will help identify restaurants that offer healthful kids’ choices on menus nationwide.”

She says the focus is to increase healthy food consumption while decreasing fats, sugars and sodium.

“These ‘Kids Live Well’ items emphasize healthful ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat and fat-free dairy products,” Sweeney said. “These choices also meet stringent nutritional criteria, and they are fully aligned with the 2010 USDA dietary guidelines.”

The National Restaurant Association said more than 15,000 restaurants are participating in the initial launch; 19 eateries participated in Wednesday’s inaugural introduction including Burger King, Denny’s, IHOP and Outback Steakhouse. 

The restaurants voluntarily joined the program by offering menu items that meet the “Kids Live Well” dietary criteria. Interested companies must offer a children’s meal with 600 calories or less and one other side item with 200 calories or less. Additionally, the nutrition information must be on display or available upon request.

Also during the presentation, Anita Jones-Mueller, President and Founder of Healthy Dining, introduced an online guide designed to help consumers locate restaurants that offer “Kids Live Well” items.  By using the guide on the revamped healthydiningfinder.com website, families can find participating restaurants in their area by typing in their zip code.

Consumers can also access each company’s “Kids Live Well” website as well as the nutritional information of the available items. Along with the nutritional information, users may view what food groups each item meets.

She added that Americans can soon expect to see the “Kids Live Well” logo on the menus of many popular restaurants and a phone app that would allow consumers to view nutrition information and to share this information via social networking sites like Facebook.

Jones-Mueller, who is also a mother of two daughters, said she recognizes the importance of finding “creative ways to entice kids to eat healthier while eating out. 

“I think this is the start of something really big,” she said. “It’s groundbreaking. It’s something that will make America a healthier place to raise kids.”

The National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining expect many more restaurants to the join the “Kids Live Well” initiative to provide healthy and equally satisfying options for everyone.

“It’s exciting that restaurants are rising to the challenge of creating items for the whole family, items that not only please taste buds, but they also please our waistlines and help our bodies,” Jones-Mueller said.

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