Michelle Obama Gets Chain Restaurants to Offer Healthier Food

Darden Restaurants, owner of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other popular chains, will offer healthier menu options for kids and adults through a new initative with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign

Since launching her Let’s Move campaign last year, Michelle Obama has been steadily pushing for changes to fight childhood obesity. She’s prompted food companies to reduce calories in their products, urged grocery store chains to build more supermarkets in “food deserts” and encouraged physical fitness by recruiting Beyonce to promote a nationwide middle school dance-in.

On Thursday, she announced her latest initiative -- a new partnership with Darden Restaurants and the Partnership for a Healthier America that will make kids’ and regular menus healthier at chain restaurants. Darden, which owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and LongHorn Steakhouse, is the world’s largest full-service restaurant chain with 1,900 restaurants in 49 states.

According to the White House, Darden is working toward a 10 percent reduction of calories and sodium over the next 10 years. On kids’ menus, fruits or vegetables will replace the typical side dish of French fries and 1-percent milk will be offered as the standard beverage choice instead of soda. Other changes include prominently displaying these healthier options and not including soda on kids’ menus. In a statement, Obama said, “Darden is working to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

The overall goal is to reduce calories and sodium by 10 percent by 2016, and by 20 percent by 2021. More than one-third of the calories consumed in America are eaten at restaurants, so these small changes may end up making a big impact in the health of children and adults.

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