Encouraging kids to eat and LiveWell

By Elizabeth Inman

The National Restaurant Association announced a major update to the Kids LiveWell nutrition program following the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 

This program, launched in 2011, aims to support nutritional health for children by offering a wider selection of healthy options at restaurants and chains. Kids’ nutrition remains in the top 20 food search trends annually, and the National Restaurant Association provides easily accessible information for parents when searching for smart choices. 

Restaurants can have their menus LiveWell-certified from the National Restaurant Association if their menus include two meals and two sides that meet a specific criteria. These options encourage more consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. 

Many drink options with high sugar concentrations are also being removed from LiveWell menus, and are instead being replaced with water, low-fat or non-fat milk and 100 percent juice. 

Other important updates have shifted the view of nutritional value to be content-based, instead of calorie-based. Instead of measuring the calories from total sugar, the guidelines now place limits on added sugars. The same goes for total fat, and now no trans fats are allowed in Kids LiveWell meals to maintain FDA guidelines. 

Nearly 13,000 restaurants across the country have been Kids LiveWell-certified. Many well-known and locally available chains are on the list including Applebee’s, IHOP and Outback Steakhouse. Fast-food chains are also beginning to make an effort to provide healthy options for kids, with Chik-fil-A, Sonic and Panda Express among them. 

More information about the program, as well as more restaurants that offer a LiveWell menu, can be found online at the Kids LiveWell | National Restaurant Association