At least 19 large restaurant chains — including Burger King, Chili's, IHOP and Friendly's — plan to announce today that they will include healthier options on their children's menus.
At least 15,000 restaurant locations will focus on increasing servings of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy. The items will have less fats, sugars and sodium.
Less healthy foods like burgers and fries will still be on the menu, but the restaurants say they will do more to promote healthier options.
Some of the items are already on menus, and restaurants say they will advertise them more prominently and flag the healthier menu items to make ordering easier. The effort is part of an initiative by the National Restaurant Association.
"This could provide a great push toward healthier offerings at restaurants," said Robert Post, the Agriculture Department official in charge of developing the department's dietary guidelines, which came out this year. Those urged Americans to eat less salt.
The companies signing up for the initiative are Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Burgerville, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Chevys, Chili's, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny's, El Pollo Loco, Friendly's, IHOP, Joe's Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-Bones Great American Eatery and zpizza.
Several chains, including McDonald's, haven't committed yet to joining the effort.