New Theme Park Healthy Food Options Widely Accepted

Are you and your family headed out to Disney World for spring break this year? You might be (pleasantly) surprised to find some new, healthier sides and beverages with your kids’ meals at each of the 145 restaurants throughout the theme park.

This change to the kid’s meal doesn’t increase the purchase price – only what’s provided within it. By default, the french fry sides have been replaced by fruits or vegetables and sodas have been replaced with low-fat milk or water.

And the great news? People are accepting it! Dr. James O. Hill, University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, and colleagues, John Peters, Jimikaye Beck, Jan Lande, Zhaoxing Pan, Michelle Cardel, Keith Ayoob, analyzed kid’s meal sales data and discovered that 48% and 66% of guests accepted the new, healthy default sides and beverages, respectively.

BENEFITS of Healthier Food & Beverage Options

These pretty small changes have resulted in some pretty big results for the kid’s meal sides, including the following:

  • 21.4% reduction in calories
  • 43.9% reduction in fat
  • 43.4% reduction in sodium

We are thrilled to see a major company like Disney World taking bold strides toward promoting – and providing – healthier choices to consumers. Considering the success of this model in a theme park, it is exciting to think about the larger implications for other industries across the country, too. This study just goes to show that when we make it easy, and affordable, for consumers to choose healthy options, they often do.

You don’t have to wait for your favorite restaurant to get on board with offering healthier food and beverage options. The next time you and your family are out to eat, ask your server if healthier substitutions are available. Even simply declining the included soda in favor of a cup of water is one important, healthy step forward.


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