Australian parents are lobbying the hospitality industry for healthier children’s food and drink options at restaurants, entertainment and sport venues as part of the ‘Healthy Menus, Healthy Venues’ campaign.
Launched today by children’s health advocacy group The Parents Jury, the campaign will call for improved children’s food options when eating out of the home.
A members’ opinion poll reveals that 60 per cent of parents are dissatisfied with the food available to children when eating out. Nearly half of the respondents said they avoid venues that don’t offer healthier options.
Parents rated cinemas as the worst offenders for providing unhealthy food and drink, with swimming pools and recreation centres ranked second worst. Parents cite a lack of fresh made-to-order items and an emphasis on cheap and unhealthy ‘value meals’ as the most irritating feature of entertainment and sport venue kiosks.
Parents Jury member and mother of two Jacqi Deighan says that as nearly one in four Australian children
are either overweight or obese, restaurants and venues must take a more socially responsible approach to their menu planning.
“We need to move beyond the current culture that assumes that children won’t eat anything other than chips, nuggets, ice creams and soft drink,” Jacqi said.
The poll also revealed that when choosing a restaurant, parents prioritise healthy age-appropriate children’s options over the presence of playground facilities or speedy service.
“There’s no reason why a child shouldn’t have a meal that’s as tasty and nutritious as the regular menu items,” Jacqi said.
In response to parents’ concerns The Parents Jury will lobby the hospitality industry to provide basic nutrition training to student chefs and to establish industry-wide guidelines for healthy children’s food and drink.
They will also be urging state governments to apply their existing school nutrition guidelines to entertainment and sport venues, which will limit the availability of high fat, sugar and salt products at these locations.
The Parents Jury spokesperson Craig Sinclair questions why entertainment and recreation venues continue to sell unhealthy foods that are already restricted or banned in school canteens across the nation.
“The hospitality and catering industries should seize the opportunity to play a major role in promoting food as part of a healthy lifestyle to children,” Craig said.
The Parents Jury is an online network of over 3,700 Australian parents who wish to voice their views and to collectively advocate for the improvement of children’s food and physical activity environments. The Parents Jury is supported by Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia Vic, QLD & WA, the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) and VicHealth.
For more information visit www.parentsjury.org.au