Should Soda Be Served With Fast Food Kid’s Meals?

Should Soda Be Served With Fast Food Kid’s Meals?

Parents have the choice of beverage with their child’s kid’s meal but one group says more needs to be done to encourage lower sugar intake for children.

Parents’ Voice, an Australian lobby group, wants fast food chains to automatically serve water with kids’ meals.

Should Soda Be Served With Fast Food Kid’s Meals?

They also want advertisements to feature water instead of sugary soft drinks.

When lines are long, when children are hungry and impatient, they believe automatically serving water will take some pressure away from parents trying to make healthier decisions for their children.

Why encourage restaurants rather than just parents? Parents’ Voice believes a change would make it easier on parents. They believe it’s the responsible choice for restaurants to make.

Why Should Water Be Standard For Kids’ Meals?

Childhood obesity is being seen at an epidemic rate. Our standard diet has become a public health concern.

In fact, your child’s sugar consumption can lead to serious health complications. Be sure to read Excessive Sugar Intake Causing Alcoholic Diseases In 30% Of Children for more information.

While fast food was once the occasional treat, it’s a staple of many families’ diets. A combination of busy lifestyles and clever advertising means many children consume fast food kids’ meals on a regular basis.

The food itself is a whole other topic, but the concern Parents’ Voice has with soda is based upon the negative effects of excessive sugar consumption.

They believe if fast food companies make water standard it could help in two ways:

  • Remove children’s expectation that a soft drink will be served
  • Make it easier for parents to choose water.

Restaurant chains participate in quite a bit of advertising. By changing the standard beverage to water and advertising it that way, they could be a part of reducing the amount of sugar consumed by children.

Should Restaurants Be Forced To Make Water Standard?

Parents’ Voice is targeting well known fast food chains in Australia such as Red Rooster, McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s, Chicken Treat, Pizza Hut, Oporto and KFC, and is urging them to make water standard. They claim these restaurants are breaking the healthy advertising code.

The Australian Food Council, however, believes forcing restaurants to make water standard is pushing limits. They feel restaurants already offer enough beverage choices, including water, to families.

Dr. Geoffrey Annison, who is the acting chief executive of The Australian Food Council disagrees with Parents’ Voice’s request, saying: “These outlets are catering to a broad community so they need to maintain a choice. We need to promote the dietary guidelines which do support water as the first drink of choice but of course other drinks do have a role including soft drinks as a treat.”

In A Competitive Food Market, Is It Possible For Water To Be Standard?

The Australian Food Council believes restricting choice could be an unfair business requirement as restaurants cater to a broad customer base.

One chain, however, has made water the standard beverage for children. Subway, a chain already advertising as a healthier option for fast food consumers, has made water the standard beverage for kids’ meals.

However, still recognising customer choice, soft drinks are available upon request. Without the request, children are automatically served water. Parents’ Voice feels this would be the best option for all kids’ meals to reduce sugar consumption.

Why Is Serving Soda To Children A Big Deal?

Perhaps you grew up getting the occasional kids’ meal served with a cola and well, you turned out just fine. Soda certainly isn’t an ideal beverage for anyone, but it’s been a treat that’s existed for quite some time.

The concern today, however, is the sheer volume of sugary beverages and treats children consume. We’re also now learning about the long-term effects we may be facing from having consumed many soft drinks.

Both childhood and adult obesity and rates of type 2 diabetes have reached epidemic levels. Now, more than ever, it’s important to establish healthy eating habits and making lower sugar consumption the norm.

Parents have always had the choice of which beverage they want served with their child’s meal. A parent isn’t forced to order a soda.

However, Parents’ Voice believes making water standard will make this choice easier for busy parents. It could remove their child’s expectation that they’ll be getting a soft drink with their meal and remove a bit of pressure for parents while ordering.

Whether Parents’ Voice can make water standard, and whether or not it would lead to lower sugar consumption, remains to be seen. However, it’s quite clear we need to be doing something to reduce the amount of sugar consumed by children.

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Maria Silver Pyanov is a mama of four energetic boys and one unique little girl. She is also a doula and childbirth educator. She's an advocate for birth options, and adequate prenatal care and support. She believes in the importance of rebuilding the village so no parent feels unsupported.

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