Burger King recently removed soft drinks as a beverage option from their kid’s menu. You are still able to get one for your child (or yourself, if you’re into that kind of thing), but you’ll have to go out of your way and ask—it’s no longer listed as an option. Although there was never an official announcement from Burger King, their decision has received plenty of media attention the last few days and has caused countless debates in article comment sections. Many state that this is a form of government control and that it should be the parents’ prerogative to give their children soft drinks with their meals, not the restaurants’. This led me to research what beverage options other fast food restaurants offer, and surprisingly (or, not surprisingly), most fast food chain restaurants such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s have already removed soft drinks as options in their kid’s meal menus and only offer milk, juice or water.
Although I agree that parents should have the ability to make the choice whether they give their child soda or not, the fact that Burger King no longer lists soda doesn’t mean that a parent can’t give their child one if they wish to do so. They can still ask for it, or buy it separately. Burger King is not forcing them to give them juice or milk. For people to say that the government is trying to control their child’s soda intake seems outlandish.
I’m not a parent, and though I’m now an adult that can decide whether I eat a salad with lite dressing or an entire pizza (or both) for lunch, a child can’t always make the distinction between what’s healthy and what’s not, so it’s left up to their parents. However, if the parents in the household are living paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet, when deciding what to eat for lunch, price and familiarity may take priority over nutritional value.
Obesity, more specifically childhood obesity, is an epidemic in our country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects 17% of children and adolescents, and that percentage continues to rise at an alarming rate. If families aren’t receiving information regarding health and nutrition from an outside source or simply aren’t capable of making healthy decisions, the fact that a restaurant is providing better choices for them seems like a step in the right direction. When you take into consideration that a low socioeconomic status is linked to unhealthy dietary habits and obesity (though not among all races and ethnicities), shouldn’t we be jumping at the idea that fast food chains are finally guiding families (that may not otherwise do so) to make healthier choices?
Though I may be biased because I’m fairly health-conscious and a self-proclaimed health-nut (on most days, anyways), I commend Burger King for their decision. It seems like more and more restaurants are offering healthier alternatives on their menus that won’t cost an arm and a leg like they did in the past, and perhaps it’s what our country needs to reverse the mentality that eating healthy is not affordable or accessible for all.