Parents call for water to be drink of choice in kids’ meals

In a Parents’ Voice survey of Australian parents, 89 per cent agreed that water should be the default option in kids’ meals.

Advocacy group Parents’ Voice presented those findings at today’s launch of the #waterwiththat campaign in Melbourne. Alice Pryor, Campaigns Manager for Parents’ Voice, said: “Our parents are sick of seeing advertisements for fast food kids’ meals that don’t match the in-store reality. These companies have pledged not to market unhealthy food and drinks to children, yet their meals come with a sugary drink as standard.”

With 47 per cent of Australian children consuming at least one sugary drink every dayi, the campaign #waterwiththat is urging all signatories to the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children (QSRI)to put water with their kids’ meals. 

Along with overweight and obesity concerns, tooth decay is a growing worry for Australian children and teenagers. “By the age of 12, one in two Australian children will have decay in their adult teeth, with added sugar being a major factor in the development of caries,” stated Clinical Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft. “We need to address the burden that sugary drink consumption is placing on our children.” 

Subway Australia is one quick service restaurant chain that has already put this idea into action. Ben Miles from Subway Australia said: “We’re proud of our Kids’ Pak – it's a child-specific portion size, comes with water as standard and is a nutritionally balanced option, packed full of colourful vegetables, fibre, carbohydrate and lean protein. Kids’ Pak also benefits from the improvements we’ve made to transform our entire menu – a 38% reduction in sodium, low sugar and low saturated fat across the range, as well as removing artificial ingredients. We've been offering wholesome, nutritious choices since our founding 50 years ago, and by working alongside great organisations like Parents’ Voice, we’re able to identify improvements and continue to make positive changes for the whole family.” 

Parent of two, Kristy Schirmer is worried about the constant pushing of sugary drinks on children: “I teach my kids about healthy eating and moderation, but my messages are constantly undermined by corporations and their marketing. Kids’ fast food meals could easily have water instead of sugary drink. Water should be the first choice for kids.” 

Ms Pryor added: “Alarmingly, children aged 9–13 years consume 7kg of sugar from sugary drinks every yearii. Parents’ Voice is urging Australian fast food companies to make a simple change. Serve water.”

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