Burger King has dropped soft drinks from its children’s meal menu, the latest change at a fast-food chain as advocacy groups urge restaurants to promote healthier fare, especially for children.
Burger King followed the lead of McDonald’s, which dropped such drinks from its Happy Meal menu list in 2013, and Wendy’s, which made a similar change in late 2014.
The updated menus come as restaurants have come under pressure from critics seeking options with less sugar and fewer calories, especially as obesity rates remain high. Obesity affects about 17 percent of all U.S. kids and adolescents, triple the rate a generation ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have removed fountain drinks from our kids’ menu boards and they are no longer merchandised as part of kids’ meals,” Burger King said today. The company said the change was made in mid-February.
Burger King offers apple juice, fat-free milk and low-fat chocolate milk in its kids’ meals.
The menu tweaks at restaurants allow some wiggle room. Customers can still order soft drinks for children’s meals though the drinks are not displayed on menu boards.
Groups including the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have been pushing restaurants for years to remove soda from their children’s menus.
“We applaud Burger King for taking this responsible step forward, and call upon their franchisees — who operate independently of the company — to immediately follow suit,” CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo Wootan said in a statement.
Her group is seeking similar changes at other chains.
Burger King’s announcement comes a week after McDonald’s said it would start using chicken raised without certain antibiotics and sell milk from cows not treated with an artificial growth hormone, its latest changes to appeal to more health-conscious customers.