High-calorie restaurant foods contribute to childhood overweight. Increased consumer demand for healthier kids’ meals may motivate the restaurant industry to provide additional healthy options. This study pilot-tested a combination of four strategies (toy incentive, placemats, server prompts, signage) designed to increase demand for healthier kids’ meals, which were defined as those eligible for the National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell program. Relative sales of healthier kids’ meals were examined before (n = 3473 total kids’ meal orders) and during Month 1 (n = 3546 total kids’ meal orders) and Month 2 of implementation (n = 3645 total kids’ meal orders) of an 8-week intervention in two locations each of a quick-service (QSR) and full-service (FSR) restaurant chain. Convenience samples of children (n = 27) and their parents (n = 28) were surveyed regarding parent and child perceptions of intervention components. Findings regarding the effectiveness and feasibility of the intervention were mixed. At the FSRs, the relative percentage of monthly sales from healthier kids’ meals increased from 5.0% of kids’ meal orders at baseline to 8.3% during Month 1, ending at 6.4% during Month 2. At the QSRs, the relative percentage of monthly sales from healthier kids’ entrees decreased from 27.5% at baseline to 25.2% during Month 1, ending at 25.9% during Month 2. Implementation quality tracking showed that consistent implementation of intervention components was a challenge; parent- and child-reported awareness of intervention components supported this finding. Future directions are discussed, aiming to build upon these findings and maximize the feasibility, effectiveness, and sustainability of efforts to promote healthier eating in restaurants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nutrition and Dietetics