Messaging Overview

Tips for Effective Kids’ Restaurant Meals Messaging

  • People want restaurants to provide healthy options for kids so that parents have good choices. Framing the issue in terms of government regulation can turn people away. Be sure to discuss it as a way to increase choice for parents.
  • Emphasize that restaurants should work on making all components of kids’ meals healthier, not just drinks.
  • Messages that include surprising information based in facts and common-sense reasoning (i.e. six is the average age of a child ordering from the children’s menu and 97 percent of children’s meals are unhealthy) work best to convince voters/parents of the importance of increasing healthy food options on children’s menus.
  • In order to address arguments that kids’ meals would be difficult for restaurants to improve, emphasize that some restaurants are already making changes and give examples.

Kids Meals Key Messaging

Our lives are busy, and more and more, we’re grabbing a meal on the run or eating out. That’s why it’s so important that restaurants offer healthy food and beverage options—especially for children.

The majority of children’s meals at the most popular restaurants are unhealthy. They are packed with calories, salt, and fat. And, children consume almost twice as many calories at restaurants compared to a typical meal at home.

Parents simply want more healthy choices for kids and to cut down on those familiar requests for junk food and sugary drinks.

To help parents, restaurants can make sure kids’ meals are healthier. One easy way to get this started is to offer water or milk as the drink with kids’ meals. They can also offer more fruit, vegetables, or whole grains and make sure the meals are not too high in calories, especially from excess fat and salt. The goal is to help kids see these healthy options as the norm, not the exception.

Soda is too high in sugar for kids, yet it is usually the beverage served with children’s meals. Drinking sodas and other sugary drinks, like energy and sports drinks, is associated with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Milk or water should be the beverage served with children’s meals.

Language to Emphasize/Language to Avoid

Messages that resonate best comprise clear, simple, everyday, jargon-free language and communicate shared values and emotion. Below you’ll find a list of words/phrases to use when speaking about Complete Streets policies to effectively engage your audience in place of language that is not as easily understood or impactful.

Use This Language Instead of This Language
Choices and options Restrictions, mandates, bans, and regulations
Sugary drinks like sports drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks or soda; drinks with added sugar Sugar-sweetened beverages or SSBs
Healthy standards Minimum nutrition requirements, banning sugary drinks
Helping children grow up at a healthy weight Preventing childhood obesity
Eating healthy and being physically active helps prevent diabetes and heart disease Eating healthy and being physically active helps prevent childhood obesity.


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