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Would Your Child Eat Healthier Foods if Restaurants Offered Them?

The Short of It

A new study suggests that if restaurants offer healthy menu items for kids—think fruit instead of French fries—kids will eat them!

The Lowdown

A new study published online in the journal "Obesity" compared kids' orders at a chain of diners and found if healthy options are available, more families will choose them.

For the study, researchers looked at more than 350,000 kids' meals and 19,000 checks from The Silver Diner chain. In April 2012, the diner changed its menu to include sides, such as fruit, veggies and salad, which were automatically substituted for the greasy sides, like fries, we parents are so used to seeing on menus. The fries were still available by request.

What researchers found was that after the restaurants changed their menus, almost half of the orders were for the healthier options, versus just 3 percent before. Meanwhile, 70 percent of orders included at least one healthy side versus 26 percent prior.

"Our study showed that healthier children's menu options were ordered a lot more often when those options were more prevalent and prominent on kids' menus, highlighting the promise of efforts to shift the status quo and make healthier options the new norm," lead author Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, a research associate at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, said in a released statement.

The Upshot

Researchers hope that if restaurants offer healthy menu items, this will have a hand in lowering the childhood obesity rate. It's worth noting that the diner chain's revenue continued to grow even though it sold fewer fries.

As a mom-of-three, I support this effort 100 percent! I would be thrilled to see fewer fries and more fruit and veggies on restaurants' children's menus. Although, my kids would certainly want the fries and probably ask for them. Most likely, any fruit or salad would be left on the plate at the end of the meal.

I'm wondering how many kids from the study actually ate their healthy sides. Or, if the sides sat, untouched. Either way, I guess they aren't eating the fries.

Do you think your kids would eat the healthier options?

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