SNEB Journal Club 2: Healthier Children's Meals in Restaurants: An Exploratory Study to Inform Acceptable Approaches

(Recorded 10/2/17)

Speakers: Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, PhD, University at Buffalo, Sara C. Folta, PhD, Tufts University

Healthier Children's Meals in Restaurants: An Exploratory Study to Inform Approaches That Are Acceptable Across Stakeholders 

A total of 63% of children ordered from children's menus, 8% of whom ordered healthier kids' meals. Half of parents reported that children determined their own orders. Taste was the most common reason for children's meal choices. Most (76%) children reported visiting the restaurant previously; 64% of them placed their usual order. Parents' views on toy incentives were mixed. Themes from executive interviews highlighted factors driving children's menu offerings, including children's habits and preferences and the need to use preexisting pantry items. Executives described menu changes as driven by profitability, consumer demand, regulation, and corporate social responsibility. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss parents’ and children’s perspectives on children’s meals in restaurants and factors likely to influence their ordering decisions in these settings
  2. Discuss drivers of and challenges with modifications to create healthier menus from the point of view of the restaurant executives

  3. Consider implications of the study’s findings for interventions to promote healthier eating in restaurants

Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bucknell University and MS and PhD degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University, where her dissertation research explored intersections between infant temperament and early obesity risk in the context of a behavioral obesity preventive intervention targeting first-time parents and their infants. The overarching goal of Dr. Anzman-Frasca’s research is to promote healthy developmental trajectories for all individuals beginning in early life, with a current focus on young children’s self-regulation abilities, healthier children’s meal options in restaurants, and intersections between obesity prevention efforts and children’s socio-emotional development.

Sara C. Folta, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Her research interests focus on public health nutrition, or the utilization of community-based strategies for improving dietary intake, physical activity, and body composition. She has particular expertise in behavioral psychology, communications, and qualitative methods. A major line of Dr. Folta's research involves community-based interventions to improve heart health among women. A second area of research includes behavioral strategies to improve health and well-being among older adults, particularly through the development of physical activity interventions. Dr. Folta's third line of research involves community-based interventions for obesity prevention among children. Dr. Folta received a B.A. in biology from Middlebury College (Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors), an M.S. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Vermont, and a Ph.D. in nutrition from Tufts University.