Burger King will add healthy menu items to its menu this fall as part of a pledge to take more action in promoting children’s nutrition. In making the pledge to the Council of Better Business Bureau, Burger King joined 11 major food and beverage companies that have also committed to advertising that promotes healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to children 12 and under.
“This is a great idea,” said Michelle Burman, a registered dietitian in Vienna, Va., who specializes in nutritional counseling for children and teens. “If kid’s are eating there anyway, then it’s better to offer what’s good for them, than not to offer it.” “Fast food restaurants should be honest through their advertising about what it is they are really selling,” Burman added. “These restaurants can be very deceiving to the public, so it is their responsibility to be honest.”
The new healthy menu choices at Burger King will be available by December 2008. The company plans to provide meals for children with no more than 560 calories per meal, less than 30 percent of calories from fat, less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, no added trans fat and no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugars. A sample meal would include flame-broiled chicken tenders, organic unsweetened apple sauce and 1 percent low-fat, chocolate milk.
In addition, Burger King promises not to advertise in elementary schools or to use product placement in mediums directed toward children. Burger King will however, include healthy lifestyle messages on kids’ meal that promote active lifestyles and healthy nutrition.
“Our pledge and the commitment we’ve made to take positive steps to provide new and innovative food and beverage products that will provide more nutritionally balanced options for kids will ensure that our menu remains relevant to all our customers,” said John Chidsey, chief executive of the Burger King Corporation, in a statement. “We not only want to better inform parents and kids about these new menu options but also to demonstrate through product innovation that better-for-you foods can be fun and taste good.”
Burman also noted the obesity epidemic. “Children are getting adult diseases, and now that it’s coming to the federal level, it’s coming full circle,” she said. “We have a long way to go. Kids need to be more active. It is up to the parents and schools to step up.”
Melanie Seabrooks, 31, a daycare teacher and parent, appreciates the initiative that Burger King is taking for children. “Healthier meals is a great idea for children,” Seabrooks said. “If it has to be fast food, then kids should eat what’s better for them.”
The Howard University Hospital Child Care Center where Seabrooks works serves children full, balanced meals that parents appreciate. “We limit sugar intake, provide vegetables everyday, offer fruit as dessert and use wheat bread,” Seabrooks explained.
When dealing with her own son, Anthony, 6, she requires him to have the same nutritional diet. “I do allow Anthony to eat fast food, but he has to get milk instead of soda, and he actually chooses the healthier choices on his own, like apple slices and salad.”
Parents interested in learning more can visit www.burgerking.com, and click on the “Hey Parents” link.