Industry under fire for menu shortfall

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Some of the country’s top chain restaurants, including Busaba Eathai and Las Iguanas, are backing a campaign for children’s menus to be giving a makeover.

The Booktable ‘Culinary Kids Campaign’ comes after new research from the restaurant booking platform reveals that the majority of British parents (78%) believe there are a lack of food options offered to their children at restaurants, with the same unhealthy options like chicken nuggets and pizza continuing to appear on most children’s menus.

According to the findings, 59% of British parents said they think the food offered to kids in restaurants is unhealthy, dull and needs to be re-imagined.

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While over half of parents that took part in the research (57%) believe restaurant food for children has improved over the years, many still believe the industry has some way to go to making the restaurant experience ‘inclusive’ to children.

Instead, 69 % felt restaurants put all of their focus into creating enticing adult menus with less effort put into their children’s food offering, which 70% believe restaurants should encourage kids to try new ingredients they have never tried before and healthier foods.

When choosing a restaurant to take their children to, the most important factors parents said they look for are activities and things for the children to do at the restaurant (61%), healthy food options (59%) and affordability (53%). However, 48% of parents admit since their children came along, it has significantly impacted how often they eat out.

Asked how they thought restaurants could help make their kids be more adventurous and healthy when dining out, a fifth of respondents (21%) said they would like to have more control over portion sizes. 31% claimed that they want chefs to create dedicated children’s tasting menus to encourage them to eat a greater variety of food types, and 21% said they’d like restaurants to provide pictures of meals so that kids could choose their own healthy option.

Despite British parents blaming lacklustre children’s menus for the lack of dining diversity for their kids, the stats showed that parents may indeed be partly responsible themselves due to feeding their children a limited diet at home.

Almost half of respondents (49 per cent) admitted there are a considerable number of food items offered in restaurants that they don’t serve to their children at home, while 71 per cent of respondents claimed they gave their kids sugar confectionary between 2-4 times a week, and an additional 64 per cent admitted to giving their children chips at least twice a week.

Joe Steele, CEO of, comments: “There is no doubt that improvements need to be made to children’s diets across the country — whether that is in or outside the home. While children’s restaurant menus have come a long way over the years and the industry has made a great deal of progress, there is still more that we can do to innovate and appeal to the family audience. All too often, the usual suspects pop up on kids menus like chicken nuggets and pizzas and the more they eat them, the more they are likely to choose what they know instead of trying new healthier foods.”

Tags : Children's menusfoodLas IguanasresearchRestaurantsusaba Eathai
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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