The Obesity Buster

Silver Diner executive chef and co-founder Ype Von Hengst at the launch of Kids LiveWell in Washington.
Silver Diner executive chef and co-founder Ype Von Hengst at the launch of Kids LiveWell in Washington. National Restaurant Association

The NRA's new Kids LiveWell program lets parents find restaurants menuing healthy items.

Watchdog groups, media and academia have long blamed restaurants for making America fat. The critics get even louder when the topic turns to our nation’s children.

In an effort to address that criticism and tackle the problem head on, the National Restaurant Association, in collaboration with Healthy Dining, launched the Kids LiveWell initiative in July of this year. Healthy Dining is a company whose mission is to empower Americans to enjoy dining out as part of a healthier lifestyle and to encourage restaurants to offer dietitian-approved menu choices.

The nationwide program provides parents and children with healthy meal options when they dine in participating restaurants. The website that serves as the focal point of the initiative is, which features participating restaurants, the qualifying menu choices and corresponding nutrient profiles.

Skyrocketing obesity rates in children bode ill for their health and well-being as they grow into adulthood; 17 percent of children aged 2-19 are obese. That figure is close to three times what it was in 1980.

Chevy’s Kids Meal
Photo: John Kelly Photography

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased to nearly 20 percent in 2008 from 7 percent in 1980. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased to 18 percent from 5 percent over the same period.

The Kids LiveWell program, which has grown by more than a fourth from the 15,000 original participating restaurant units, requires that all kids’ meals have fewer than 600 calories.

“We started with 19 brands and we are up to 34,” says Joan Rector McGlockton, who is vice president of industry affairs and food policy for the NRA.



I blame our school cafeteria budgets for obese children in America.  It costs alot more to sub wheat breads verse white flour based bread, and grilled chicken breasts cost more than breaded processed chicken.  etc etc etc  When the schools educate the kids from a young age and practice what they preachwe wont have this problem and our kids will be much healthier as a result.  The healthcare system should contribute to these budgets as for in the longterm they will benefit !!!


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