Over 15,000 restaurants across the country have joined forces with the Kids Live Well initiative. The National Restaurant Association's program aims to give children healthier options when eating out. Large chains including Burger King, IHOP, Friendly's, Chili's, Outback Steakhouse, Denny's, Au Bon Pain, and Chevy's agreed to the standards for children's menus as detailed in the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. The program requires at least one kid's meal, including beverage, side, and entree, that is 600 calories or less. They must also have a snack on the menu that is 200 calories or less. The ultimate goal is to have food choices that increase fruit, whole grain, lean protein, low-fat diary, and vegetable servings in meals. Nutritional information must be available as well. Restaurants are required to promote their healthier options. Chili's has decided to promote a chicken sandwich that comes with a side of pineapples or mandarin oranges. Burger King recently redid the recipe for their chicken nuggets for children so that they include less sodium. The chain store also offers Fresh Apple Fries.
The initiative is one that is definitely needed and long overdue. But why isn't McDonald's--fast food of all fast foods--on the list of participating restaurants? We listen to our customers and continue to provide balanced menu options, including meals for our youngest guests, spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling said.
McDonald's has undergone major changes since it has been pressured over the years for its super unhealthier but cheap options. Its Happy Meal already meets guidelines for the NRA's initiative as it is only 390 calories (4 piece chicken McNuggets, Apple Dippers with low-fat carmel, and low-fat milk.) Here are some of McDonald's healthier options for children and adults.