DineEquity, the parent company of both Applebee’s and IHOP, announced that it is removing soda from kids’ meals and children’s menus at these sit-down, family-dining restaurants. Although parents can still order soft drinks for their kids, Applebee’s and IHOP will only list milk and juice as beverage options on their menus. These two restaurants join the ranks of McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, as well as Chipotle, Dairy Queen, Subway, and Panera—all of which have already delisted the sugary, carbonated drinks from their kids’ menus. Find out where your favorite soda lands on our exclusive report of the 38 Top Diet Sodas—Ranked!
“Soda and other sugary drinks promote diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and even heart disease, and a kids’ menu is no place for disease-promoting drinks,” Center for Science in the Public Interest nutrition policy counsel Jessica Almy said in a recent statement. These ailments are typically due to the beverages’ most common sweetener: high-fructose corn syrup. HFCS’s introduction to soft drinks and other sweetened beverages is largely responsible for the obesity epidemic by causing caloric overconsumption. Since energy obtained from fluids has been shown to be less satisfying than calories from solid foods, we tend to drink more before we feel satisfied, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Over consumption of artificial sweeteners causes weight gain because the fructose structure of HFCS bypasses the typical regulations of glucose metabolism, making it an easily accessible source for fat production over energy synthesis.
Even with the removal of these sweet soft drinks, your youngster isn’t guaranteed to have a healthy meal. Just one of IHOP’s “Create-A-Face” pancakes contains a terrifying 27 grams of sugar, or about 7 teaspoons worth—that’s more than any child under 18 should consume in a single day according to guidelines published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. And things aren’t much better at Applebee’s. Their “Kid’s: Really Really Hungry” menu features a “Chicken Mac ‘n Cheese” that clocks in at 2,030 mg of sodium—which is just a side of “Baby Carrots with Ranch” away from your child’s recommended intake for the entire day. And that doesn’t even include a non-soda drink.
But at least there’s some improvement, right?!