Fast-food restaurants have been under fire for years to remove sugary drinks from their kids’ menus, and now Burger King is the last of the Big 3 burger chains to nix soft drink options from the children’s menus. According to various news reports, BK quietly removed soft drink options from kids’ meals sometime in the middle of February.
In January 2015, Wendy’s surrendered to pressure from parents and health advocacy groups urging it burger chain to remove sugar-sweetened beverages from its children’s menus in an effort to combat childhood obesity. The move was hailed by MomsRising.org and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), all of which have been urging the chain to improve the nutritional quality of its kids’ meals by removing soda from the kids menu.
In my blog posted Jan. 20, I raised the question of whether BK would follow suit. I guess I was right.
In 2013, McDonald’s was the first fast-food burger giant to remove sugary soft drinks from kids’ menus announcing it would market only water, milk and juice as the beverage in Happy Meals on menu boards and in-store and external advertising. Other large chains including Subway, Chipotle, Arby’s and Panera already don’t include soda as the default option in their kids’ meals
Commenting on Burger King’s new menu policy, CSPI said: “Soda and other sugary drinks promote diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, and even heart diseaseand have no place on menus meant for little kids. We applaud Burger King for taking this responsible step forward, and call upon their franchiseeswho operate independently of the companyto immediately follow suit. Restaurant chains that market soda as part of their children's meals are making life harder for parents, most of whom want to reserve soda as a special, occasional treat if they allow it at all. It will help children eat better now, as soda is the leading source of calories in children's diets. It also helps to set kids on a path toward healthier eating in the future, with fewer kids becoming conditioned to think that soda should be a part of every eating out occasion."
Burger King’s announcement comes just a week after fast-food giant McDonald’s announced it will begin phasing out sourcing chickens raised with antibiotics over the next two years and will only source chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine. McDonald’s also announced that beginning later in 2015, it will only offer milk jugs of low-fat white milk and fat-free chocolate milk from cows that are not treated with rbST, an artificial growth hormone. The milk jugs are popular choices in Happy Meals.
Customers will now only see options for fat-free milk, low-fat chocolate milk and apple juice, according to USA Today, which first reported the menu switch. Soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola and Sprite, will still be offered, but won’t appear on the kids’ meal menu.
Amid mounting pressure from health advocacy groups working to end childhood obesity, Burger King joins a growing number of fast food restaurants trying to reduce the unhealthy options on their menus by removing calorie-laden soft drinks. Earlier this year, McDonald's and Wendy's made the switch.
With Burger King agreeing to remove soda pop products from its children’s menu, three of the biggest fast food burger chains – Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King – now join Subway , Chipotle, Arby’s, and Panera in providing more healthful options as the default beverage in their kids meals.