Do you have a kids menu?

Date: 19 November, 2013.

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Background

kids menu report coverDo you have a kids menu? investigates the availability of healthy food options in restaurants and other caterers on the island of Ireland. The report summarises the feedback from 180 caterers, 192 parents and 90 children. 

Childhood obesity is a growing worldwide public health issue, the prevalence of which has increased by 2.5% between 1990 and 2010. The island of Ireland (IOI) is no exception, where almost one in four children and young people are carrying excess weight.

The aim of this research was to investigate the range of food available for children while eating outside the home, and to identify barriers to and opportunities for the provision of healthier food options in this environment.

Specific study objectives included:

  1. To assess what nutritional guidelines are available nationally and internationally with respect to eating outside the home
  2. To investigate the range of children’s meals available outside the home across the IOI and explore the perspective of caterers in the provision of healthier meal options
  3. To assess attitudes and experiences of parents and guardians of children aged 5-12 years when eating outside the home
  4. To assess children’s (aged 5-12 years) attitudes with regards to food and eating occasions outside the home.

The target groups involved in the research included:

  • Caterers
  • Parents and guardians of children aged 5-12 years
  • Children aged 5-12 years.

In order to achieve the study objectives, a mixed methods study using both quantitative and qualitative research methods was conducted.

Key findings included sausages, beef burgers and chicken nuggets are the top three most widely available main courses. Only 42% of eating establishments surveyed listed vegetables on any part of the children’s menu. The report finds that two thirds (64%) of caterers provide healthier options for kids but less than 27% actively promote these.