This Fast-Food Chain Is Kicking Soda Out of Kids' Meals

Unfortunately, many chains are still including soda options in kid's meals.

January 16, 2015
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Generally with any species, mothers want to protect their young. So if someone were contributing to your child's facing a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, tooth decay, and even accelerated aging, you would want to stop him or her, right?

Public-interest groups, including MomsRising.org, did just that. The group recently urged Wendy's fast-food chain to remove sugary soda from its kid's meals, and just this week, the fast-food giant finally agreed. "While parents bear most of the responsibility for feeding their children well, restaurant chains also need to do their part," says Jessica Almy, senior nutrition policy counsel at Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). "Restaurants should not be setting parents up for a fight by bundling soda with meal options designed for kids."

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This week's announcement leaves Burger King as the only Big 3 burger chain still handing out soda in meals specifically intended for children. Last year, McDonald's agree to drop soda from Happy Meals. (Check out this soda infographic and you may quit the fizzy drinks cold turkey!)

According to researchers, drinking just one additional sugary drink every day increases a child's odds of becoming obese by 60 percent and can also lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other health problems in children and adults. Decades of giving kids soda has been a way to keep both kids and adults hooked. In fact, a recent study found a whopping 63 percent of kids between the ages of 3 and 5 regularly drink soda. "What a win for the fast-food industry. They fill us up with supersize sodas loaded with table sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup," says Gerard Mullin, MD, director of integrative GI nutrition at Johns Hopkins University and author of The Gut Balance Revolution. "We become hungrier, consume more high-fat junk food filled with HFCS, and unknowingly become addicted."

Luckily, some fast-food joints are starting to wise up, as evidenced by Wendy's move to remove soda from kids' meals. But now CSPI and its allies want Wendy's to go further and start offering whole grain rolls, more fruit and vegetables, and lower-sodium menu items.

More: 2 New Reasons for Women to Quit Drinking Soda

"Wendy’s is taking a responsible step forward that will improve children's health and make it easier for parents to make healthy choices for their children. We hope Burger King, Applebee's, IHOP, and other chains follow suit," Almy says.

 

According to Deborah Enos, a certified nutritionist, there are four solid ways that you can try to kick your soda habit for good:

1. Drink more water. OK, I know; you aren't likely to enjoy trading the sweet taste of soda for plain-old water. If plain water bores you, try dressing it up with lemon and a little honey.

2. Need the fizz? If the zing of the bubbles is what you're looking for, you can get it from carbonated water. And if you can't live without a flavor in your drink, you can find a fruity seltzer to quench your thirst.

3. Are you a grown-up missing soda? Make a mocktail. A mocktail is essentially a "mock cocktail," or a cocktail without alcohol. This way, it makes hydrating yourself (with something other than soda) seem more fun. You can even serve it up in a martini glass to reinforce that "party time" feeling. My favorite mocktail consists of coconut water, hibiscus tea, and a splash of lime juice. I call it a hibiscus cooler.

4. If all else fails, water down your soda. You can use water or plain seltzer. Start with a small amount and work your way up until you're drinking only about a half of a glass or less of soda.