Tomorrow morning, the National Restaurant Association is holding a news conference to announce a new national children’s menu initiative that claims to “provide parents and children with healthful menu options when eating out.”

A public relations release says that the news conference will highlight “how restaurants are helping parents by making the healthful choice the easy choice.”

Note the use of the word “are.” So this is happening already and the news conference is just to draw attention? Is this just a Kumbaya public relations moment for the industry — instead of an announcement of new solutions? Or a labeling effort to make it easier to see what few items on a chain restaurant’s menu are healthy?

Whatever restaurants are doing it is clearly not enough. One look at the statistics tells you that. Something dramatic needs to happen.

I take some comfort in who’s joining NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney to make the announcement: Rob Bisceglie, executive director of Action for Healthy Kids and Anita Jones-Mueller, founder of Healthy Dining.

The first group is a non-profit with a record of advocacy. Its board of directors is largely composed of health and school officials. One assumes they are unlikely to front for an initiative that didn’t offer something substantive.

I’m less sure about the latter company, but not ready to knock it. Healthy Dining’s goals appear to mirror my own — nudging restaurants to offer healthier fare and celebrating them when they do.

However, it’s worth knowing that while I receive no compensation from the restaurant industry, Healthy Dining does. Its corporate website says it functions as a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for menu items. I’m sure Healthy Dining would make the argument that it is working on the same issues — but from the inside, and it would be unfair to fault that. However, the site allows a zip code search for the healthy menu items near you. But a search for my zip code turned up McDonald’s, Captain D’s Seafood, Longhorn Steakhouse and a bunch of other chains that — while they have some healthy menu items — still make the bulk of their money peddling unhealthy food.

And because I raised the topic:

For the record, The Restaurant Dieter is a guy pursuing a passion and receives no compensation. Any ads you see on my site are randomly placed there by Google Ads. Perhaps they’ll generate revenue some day. But if that day comes, please know that I will not be involved in selling or placing any advertising. I’ll also have no contact with any advertisers that could affect my judgment.

Speaking of judging, let’s not. Let’s see what tomorrow holds.

Spread the love