This Illuminate Award will enable me to kick start a new program of research focusing on improving the nutritional quality of Kids Menus in cafes and restaurants. I’m shocked at how unhealthy Kids Menus are – nothing but chicken nuggets and chips, burgers and chips or fish and chips – all deep fried and not a vegetable in sight!
My long-term goal is to obtain funding to develop, pilot and trial a certified children’s healthy menu program which provides practical support, resources and formal recognition to restaurants that offer a healthy Kids Menu (imagine a Telethon Kids Institute ‘tick of approval’ on Kids Menus that meet health criteria!). However, I first need to demonstrate that parents/caregivers, children and food business owners would welcome such an intervention and that healthy Kids Menus can be an economically viable option.
I will also work with one of our stakeholders, the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) and the WA Local Government Association to develop a ‘Best Healthy Kids Menu Award’ as an additional incentive for industry to strive towards creating the best Healthy Kids Menu.
Given households eat out two-to-three nights per week on average, creating a movement towards more nutritious, less energy dense foods being made available for children in restaurants and cafes has the potential to improve children’s dietary intakes and reduce their risk of overweight/obesity at the population-level.