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Soda Off the Menu for Kids at Applebee’s, IHOP, and Others

Parents have it a little easier when dining out these days: Applebee’s has decided to remove soda from the children’s menu, with IHOP following suit. Children and parents can still request their favorite bubbly beverage, but it simply won’t appear on the menu. [1]

Tom Linafelt, of DineEquity (which owns both companies) was quoted as saying, “While soft drinks are still available by request, we believe this is a small step in assisting parents when dining out, as parents are in the best position to determine the appropriate food and beverage choices for their children.”

IHOP and Applebee’s are following suit of other popular eateries, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King who have also removed soda from their children’s menu. They hope the change will make it easier for parents to negotiate with children to pick healthier options if they are limited to what is available to them on the menu. [2]

Currently, 1 in 5 children are categorized as obese, and 1 in 3 are overweight. The Center for Disease Control reports that the number of obese adolescents has quadrupled in the past 30 years due to ever-increasing caloric meals and sedentary lifestyles. About 70% of obese children under the age of 18 are at risk for cardiovascular disease and even suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Obesity in childhood is linked to obesity in adulthood, as well as many different types of cancers.

But the effects of excessive sugary drinks aren’t just years away for children. Excess sugar can lead to diabetes and tooth decay, and one large soda can contain almost as many calories as the meal itself, but with as much as 81 grams of sugar. This is almost three times the daily recommended allowance of 30 grams of sugar for those over the age of 11. [3]

DineEquity predicts that several other sit-down chains will follow in their lead, making it a lot easier for parents to control their children’s choices. This is hopefully one step in the right direction for helping control childhood obesity in the United States.