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New Nationwide Initiative Will Battle Childhood Obesity

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Parents have a new tool to fight childhood obesity.  A new Kids Live Well initiative kicked off Wednesday and it’s bringing healthier options to a restaurant near you.

Monique Griego has more on what parents need to know.

Eating out is sometimes the most accessible option for busy parents.

“Because it’s cheap, it’s easy, because the kids will eat it without fuss,” said Olga Robbins.

Robbins says she struggles to find healthy options on the menu, but now that may be a little easier, thanks to Kids Live Well, a nationwide initiative created by the National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining.

It kicked off Wednesday at 15,000 restaurants, including Burger King, IHOP, El Pollo Loco and Corner Bakery.  The program marks healthy menu items with a red apple.  The meals have to have one entree, a side dish, a beverage and be less than 600 calories.  They also must meet strict nutritional guidelines.

Many stores already had healthy options that met the program’s guidelines.  Others are creating new menu items to give parents more options.

“It will be great to see something on the menu that is healthier that children will eat,” Robbins said.

Childhood obesity has skyrocketed to 17 percent, or 12.5 million children nationwide.

“It’s growing.  It’s a growing problem.  You see it decreasing in age and kids are getting fatter,” said Dr. Asa House.

House, a nutritionist at St. Joseph, knows it’s not always possible to cook healthy for your kids.  While she doesn’t think the Kids Live Well program is perfect, she says it’s a start but it’s still up to parents to choose right.

Program leaders say they plan to expand the program to more restaurants.  If you’d like to check which ones are already serving healthy options, click here.

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