Montgomery Co. restaurants will offer healthy alternatives for kids’ meals, beginning Wednesday

Some new kids items will be on the menu at restaurants in Montgomery County, Maryland, beginning Wednesday.

Drink options that are considered to be healthy alternatives will be added to kids’ menus at eateries across the Maryland county this week. The required-alternatives only apply to restaurants that bundle food and drink into a meal for kids.

Among the less-sugary options is 6 ounces or less of 100% fruit juice. Milk with the kids’ meal must be nonfat or 1% and could not exceed 8 ounces. And chocolate or other flavored milks don’t count.

Montgomery County Council member Craig Rice, the lead sponsor of the bill that requires this change, has previously said that it will help combat the rising incidence of childhood obesity.

The second phase of the “Healthy Meals for Children” bill will require restaurants to offer healthy meals, like at least two fruits or vegetables that are not fried, lean protein and more whole-grain ingredients. That portion of the bill is set to begin in September.

The specifications for kids’ meals that will go into effect in September state that meals must contain no more than:

  • 600 calories
  • 700 milligrams of sodium
  • 35% of calories from total sugars
  • 35% of calories from fat
  • 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • 0.5 grams of trans fat

The changes are a part of new legislation passed by the council last year in an effort to combat child obesity. Rice says it’s also about education.

Prince George’s County enacted similar legislation in 2021.

WTOP’s Jessica Kronzer and Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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