Well, that's what came with it. A qualitative study of U.S. mothers' perceptions of healthier default options for children's meals at fast-food restaurants

Holly K.M. Henry, Dina L.G. Borzekowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Using a qualitative design, this study investigated mothers' perceptions of food choices and default options, for children, at fast-food restaurants. Study Design: Mothers of 3- to 8-year-old children (n = 40) participated in phone interviews. Results: Mothers praised fast-food restaurants for offering healthier choices, but voiced concerns about quality of the food. Half worried about meat products and several were distressed by the processing involved with food and beverages. Many said that their children wanted to visit fast-food restaurants because of advertised toys and not food offerings. Half liked bundled meals, as long as they could choose the specific items that were included. Having healthier defaults might eliminate battles, reduce forgetfulness and facilitate ordering. Most mothers favored healthier defaults because it would help "other parents." Conclusion: This small study provides strong support for offering healthier options at fast-food restaurants. Restaurants, schools and other food venues should design children's meals that make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015



  • Children
  • Default
  • Fast food
  • Obesity
  • Toy promotions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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