POSTED: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 10:18pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 - 12:00am
NBC NEWS — Nineteen of the nation's biggest food chains are spicing up their children's menus with healthier food.
Childhood obesity is a national epidemic, and the restaurant industry is responding to enormous pressure.
Burger King, Chili's, and Denny's are among the big name eateries lining up in a new program called Kids Live Well.
Burgers and fries are not disappearing, but now they'll have some competition.
Everywhere in America, where you go out to eat, there should be healthful options available,” stated Dawn Sweeney, with the National Restaurant Association. “That's really the direction I think that this industry is headed."
McDonald's is noticeably absent, but says it's still committed to what it calls balanced menu options.
Consumer advocates want more than a few menu changes.
"If the restaurant industry today had announced they were going to make half of the options on the children's menu healthy, I would be so enthusiastic,” said Margo Wootan, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “That would really help parents find good choices for their kids."
The industry hopes to make a point with young customers, and a new bottom line: healthy choices for a new generation.