Unhealthy meal options still dominate children’s menus, say campaigners

NEW RESEARCH out today (17th July) has revealed that some of Britain’s leading restaurant and pub chains are failing to offer healthy menu options for children.


The report, produced by the Soil Association and Organix as part of the Out to Lunch Campaign, revealed that children’s menus were still dominated by foods such as chicken nuggets and chips, and half of the 21 popular restaurants and pubs surveyed did not offer any vegetables or salad side option with kids meals.


The Out To Lunch campaign is now calling for the restaurant industry to improve standards and make changes to children’s menus.


Key findings include:


  • 12 out of the 21 restaurants and pubs have children’s menus dominated by nuggets, burgers and sausages
  • Eight out of 21 chains don’t include vegetables or salad in the majority of their children’s main meals
  • 10 don’t include a portion of fruit in any of their children’s puddings
  • Only 11 out of 21 chains were willing to tell us if their food was freshly cooked and where it comes from. Of the 11, only 4 were making and cooking the majority of their children’s food in the kitchen: Jamie’s Italian, Wagamama, Carluccios and Café Rouge
  • Only one chain (Jamie’s Italian) could reliably tell parents where its meat came from
  • Only 1 offers children’s cutlery as standard
  • No restaurants have signage welcoming breastfeeding on their premises
  • Only 2 chains offer a children’s drinks menu free from added sugar and sweeteners


In line with the research, Out to Lunch has issued a league table ranking the 21 restaurants and pubs to show the industry and consumers what chains are offering children.



Jamie’s Italian, Wagamama and Wetherspoons came out on top of the league table, while Burger King, KFC and Prezzo scored the least points. Price points did not affect where any restaurant or pub came on the list.


Joanna Lewis, Head of Policy at the Soil Association comments: “Our investigation reveals that most high street restaurants are not even meeting the most basic standards families should expect when they eat out. Most are still churning out children¹s menus dominated by the usual suspects burgers, nuggets and pizzas turning the table into a battlefield for any parents wanting their child to eat well. With 1 in 3 children now overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, it¹s time for these popular chains to use their influence in a positive way.



“Restaurants need to raise the bar and listen to parents who are saying they want fresh food not ready meals for their children, and the same kind of variety you’d expect as an adult. In the wake of horsegate, it also rings alarm bells that only one restaurant knows where its meat comes from.”