Thanks to our secret diner families, Out to Lunch is catalysing a transformation of children’s food on the high street – many restaurants are now prioritising child health and investing in healthier and more creative meal options. But there is still a national scandal unfolding in plain sight: 75% of UK parents say they are worried by the portion size of children’s puddings when they eat out. We found that renegade chains are ignoring parent concerns by dishing up super-sized calorific junk, undermining national efforts to tackle childhood obesity.
Despite continuing poor practice, the Out to Lunch league table shows that children’s food on the high street has undergone notable improvement since the campaign launched in 2013. There are now 13 chains now serve a portion of veg or salad with every meal (up from 6 chains in 2013) and 12 chains that include organic ingredients on the menu (up from 6 chains in 2015). In response to the 2017 league table, Pizza Hut and TGI Friday’s have committed to discontinuing free refills of sugary drinks throughout their restaurants from March 2018.
Restaurants have a big role to play in influencing what children think good food looks like – going out used to be seen as a treat, but our new research shows it’s more common now with 40% of parents eating out with their kids at least once a fortnight. Meanwhile, 66% of parents say they don’t think kids’ food in restaurants is good enough. Jamie’s Italian topped the table with a score of 75 out of 90, and Strada was the biggest climber, moving an impressive 16 places to 3rd position.
Several chains significantly improved their children’s menu by serving a portion of veg or salad with every meal and including organic ingredients on the menu. However, we also uncovered continuing widespread poor practice with a number of chains failing to serve fresh food or healthy choices and oversized children's puddings with one chain serving over 400% more of a child's daily sugar allowance.
In 2016, we exposed the truth behind food served at popular family attractions. such as Alton Towers and the Natural History Museum. We worked with an army of ‘secret diner’ parents, to uncover unhealthy pre-packed lunchboxes, dodgy ingredients, and a lack of transparency about food sourcing practices in the UK’s most popular museums, art galleries, zoos, visitor centres, and theme parks, as well as some good food at reasonable prices.
In 2015, our 'secret diner' parents surveyed some of the UK's biggest and most popular chains on the food and service they are offering our children. Jamies Italian, Harvester and Giraffe were in the top 3, with Burger King, KFC and Strada at the bottom.
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