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National Restaurant Association - Healthy kids = healthy sales?

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Healthy kids = healthy sales?

Could nutritious kids’ meals at restaurants increase sales and encourage families to be more healthful when they dine out?

After the Silver Diner restaurant chain joined our Kids LiveWell program and added more healthful items to its menu, more people started ordering the nutritious meals. Plus, sales went up, research from ChildObesity 180 at Tufts University shows.

Conclusion: Offering more healthful options didn’t hurt overall restaurant revenue and potentially increased the chain’s sales.

“When you think of diners, you don’t immediately think of healthy food, right? We believe we have a personal commitment to give families and kids better food,” says Ype von Hengst, Silver Diner’s co-founder and executive chef. “We joined the NRA’s Kids LiveWell program in 2011 with five certified menu items. Today we’ve got more than 20, and some of the changes we’ve made have given us a 25-percent increase in sales.”

The Rockville, Md-based family-dining chain started offering more healthful choices in April 2012. After the menu changes were made, sales data indicated 46 percent of children’s meals ordered came from the more healthful options, compared with 3 percent before the revamp. In addition, the number of kids’ meals with at least one healthful side dish increased to 70 percent, from 26 percent before the change.

After joining Kids LiveWell, Silver Diner made three big changes to its kids’ menu:

  1. Offered more healthy kids’ meals
  2. Automatically included healthful sides, like fresh fruit, mixed veggies and side salads
  3. Took fries and sugary drinks off the menu, though they were available on request

The study looked at ordering patterns for children’s food and the chain’s sales data after the changes were made. Data from more than 350,000 children’s meals ordered were analyzed, along with 18,712 individual checks from before and after the changes went into effect.

Perhaps most notably, researchers found Silver Diner’s revenues outpaced those of other leading family-dining chains, during the September 2012 to March 2013 timeline studied.

“Healthier children’s options were ordered a lot more often when they were more prominent on kids’ menus” says Obesity180 researcher Stephanie Anzman-Frasca. “Given how frequently kids go to restaurants … offering and promoting healthier menu options could play a role in reversing the childhood obesity epidemic.”

Pictured top right: Silver Diner has been offering more healthful kids' options since it redesigned its menu in 2012.

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