Here’s some great news on the healthy eating front …
First Lady Michelle Obama has joined Darden Restaurants and Partnership for a Healthier America in announcing a “breakthrough” health and wellness commitment in the restaurant industry. Darden — whose brands include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze — is the world’s largest full service restaurant company and owns and operates 1,900 restaurants in 49 states, serving over 400 million meals per year.
Here’s what they have agreed to and, as a parent of three boys who dine out often, I’m telling you this is huge:
- A fruit or vegetable will be the default side for every kids’ menu item. (Not fries or mac ‘n’ cheese.)
- 1% milk will be the default beverage, provided automatically if no alternate beverage is requested. Milk will be prominently promoted on the menu and made available with free refills.
- Food illustrations on the menu will promote the healthy choices for meals and drinks.
- Healthier menu options will be more prominently displayed when possible.
- Carbonated beverages will not be displayed on children’s menus. (HALLELUJAH!)
- Improve the nutritional content of one or more children’s menu items to provide equal or less than 600 calories, 30% of total calories from fat, 10% of total calories from saturated fat and 600 mg of sodium.
Some changes have gone into effect immediately, with all being fully implemented by July 2012.
In announcing the news, Obama said: “I’m here today because this is a breakthrough moment in the restaurant industry. Darden is doing what no restaurant company has done before. They’re not just making their kids menus healthier so that parents have more choices and more control, they’re committing to make changes across the full menu at every single one of their restaurants.
“I’m confident that if companies like Darden continue to be creative and innovative and keep our kids’ best interests at heart then we will solve the challenge of childhood obesity and give all our kids the healthy futures they deserve.”