Restaurants to offer more-healthful fare for kids

It’s something but is it really enough?

Nineteen chains — including Burger King, Denny’s, IHOP, Chili’s, Friendly’s, Chevy’s and El Pollo Loco — have agreed to participate in the Kids Live Well initiative as worries increase about the role of fast food in childhood obesity.

French fries, slathered with ketchup and washed down with a pint of soda, are a favorite part of fast-food lunches and dinners for millions of American youngsters.

But taking a cue from nutritionists, a group of 19 restaurant companies are pledging to offer more-healthful menu options for children at a time when concern is growing over the role of fast food in childhood obesity.

Burger King, the second-largest burger chain, for instance, will stop automatically including French fries and soda in its kids’ meals starting this month, although the items will still be available.

Instead, the company said Tuesday, its employees will ask parents whether they prefer such options as milk or sliced apples before assembling the meals.

“We’re asking the customers to specify what they want,” said Craig Prusher, the chain’s vice president of government relations. Fries and soft drinks are “no longer a default decision,” he added.