An important part of advocacy is knowing the current environment surrounding an issue. Thanks to research conducted by UVM medical students this past year, we have great data to help us in our efforts this summer and fall to promote nutrition standards for kids meals at Vermont restaurants.
As part of a public health project with the American Heart Association, the students surveyed Vermont restaurants who served kids meals and found that while 80% of restaurants said they offered healthy entrees, 80% also said they offered unhealthy entrees. This makes it more difficult for parents to feed their kids healthy because kids are often going to want to choose the unhealthy option that they perceive as more flavorful. We want to ensure that all entrée options on the kids’ meals menus are healthy to ensure kids can choose a healthy option, help parents and level the playing field because all Vermont restaurants that serve kids meals would be serving healthy meals.
Another area to work on is that more than 50% of the restaurants still serve soda with their kids’ meals. But the good news is that the survey results showed the restaurant owners largely DISAGREED that their sales would decrease if they changed their beverage options. And most owners agreed that they had access to resources to make the changes easily.
With some good data behind us, thanks to the UVM medical students, we hope you’ll help us as well in promoting the need for restaurants to make the healthy choice the easy choice on kids’ meals.