Voluntary healthier kids' meals policies: Are caregivers choosing kids' meals and healthier items for their child?
Choi, Y.Y.; Hyary, M.; Fleming-Milici, F.; Harris, J.L.
Pediatric Obesity 16(10): E12797
ISSN/ISBN: 2047-6310 PMID: 33955202 DOI: 10.1111/ijpo.12797
Children's fast-food consumption increases risks for obesity and other diet-related diseases. To address concerns, from 2010 to 2016 U.S. fast-food restaurants implemented voluntary policies to offer healthier drinks and/or sides with kids' meals. Examine the effectiveness of voluntary kids' meal policies. Online repeated cross-sectional survey (2010, 2013, 2016) of U.S. caregivers (N = 2093) who purchased fast-food for their child (2-11 years) in the past week. Logistic regression examined associations between healthier kids' meal policy implementation and caregivers' purchases of kids' meals and selection of healthier sides and drinks. Separate models investigated caregivers' attitudes about McDonald's kids' meal items. Overall, 55% of caregivers reported choosing a kids' meal for their child, and approximately one-half of those caregivers selected a healthier drink and/or side. Healthier kids' meal policy implementation was associated with increased selection of healthier sides, but not healthier drinks or choice of kids' meals over higher-calorie menu items. Child's age, caregiver gender and visit frequency were significant in most models. Caregivers' perceptions that their child(ren) like healthier drinks and sides were positively associated with selection of those items. Existing healthier kids' meal policies may not improve children's fast-food consumption. Public health initiatives should examine more effective alternatives.