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Restaurant Group Announces Plans To Improve Kids Meal Menus: Other Companies To Follow
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Restaurant Group Announces Plans to Improve Kids Meal Menus: Other Companies to Follow

Darden Restaurant Group Incorporated has announced that several of its branch restaurant brands would be making some changes to their children’s menus to reduce both calories and sodium in their offerings. Olive Garden and Red Lobster are the first two of the groups brands to make the adjustments with others, including Long Horn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze to follow suit.All of these restaurant chains will now offer at least one meal on the kid’s menu that is under six hundred calories.  Darden is considered to be one of the top performing restaurant operations in the US and will likely follow changes in the kid’s menus with changes to adult offerings as well.

Darden Restaurant Group also owns Capital Grille, a higher end steakhouse chain and Season 32, where none of the meals are over five hundred calories.

The restaurant industry has been under increasing pressure from health advocates and public health officials to increase the nutritional value in meals offered to children as well as to cut their calories. Currently, one in three children in the US are considered to be overweight or obese, a matter that has doctor’s groups, health officials and others working to find a reasonable solution. Other chains are also announcing plans to change their menus for kids and adults with McDonald’s, Burger King, Cracker Barrel and Denny’s already making some changes and planning others. McDonald’s recently changed the size of the french fries offered in the kid’s meal and will automatically add apple slices in those meals as well. Milk has been offered as a drink option on the menu for quite a while but will be suggested more prominently.

While the restaurants may be taking steps to improve what they offer in terms of health, they still offer quite a few meals that are considered to be decadent and less than optimal. For instance, Olive Garden offers a special called the Never Ending Pasta Bowl and Red Lobster has All You can Eat Shrimp, choices that healthy eating advocates say encourage bad habits like overeating.

That move coincides with some news being offered by individual states. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has announced that his state may start requiring Body Mass Index (BMI) testing for all children under the age of eighteen which will be directly reported to a state registry and monitored. According to his office, the child’s information will be kept private with only the actual BMI reading being sent to the registry. That news may be met with some resistance, however. In 2003, Arkansas passed a law requiring that children’s BMI be computed and then sent to their parent’s every year. That law was changed some four years later allowing for more time to pass in between screenings and more options for parents to prevent them.

In Michigan, like much of the US, a high percentage of children are overweight or obese, with an estimated 800,000 falling in that category. It was recently revealed that the state is in the top ten fattest states in the nation.


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