About Kids LiveWell

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Kids LunchThe National Restaurant Association launched the Kids LiveWell program in 2011 to help parents and children select ‘better-for-you’ menu options when dining out. Restaurants that participate in the voluntary program commit to offering Kids LiveWell-approved meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, while limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.

Have the Kids LiveWell standards changed?
As nutrition science evolves, Kids LiveWell is evolving with it. Our latest Kids LiveWell criteria, released in 2019, align with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans and federal regulations, including changes in the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods.

If your restaurant was part of our original Kids LiveWell program, you will notice some key differences between our 2019 and 2011 nutrition criteria:  

  • Number of options: We now require Kids LiveWell participants to offer at least two children’s meals and two side dishes that meet the new criteria. Our original Kids LiveWell program required just one compliant kids’ meal and two side-dish options.
  • Fruits and vegetables: We now require that a fruit and/or vegetable be part of every Kids LiveWell meal.
  • Calories: We reduced the maximum calorie count for Kids LiveWell meals to 550, from the original 600, nearly a 10% decrease.
  • Calories from total fat: We deleted a requirement concerning calories from total fat. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees that shaped the 2010 and 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, among other experts, have concluded that limiting saturated fat and trans fat intake is a more important way to impact health than measuring calories from total fat.
  • No artificial trans fats: We now prohibit all industrially produced trans fat in any Kids LiveWell menu item. (Naturally occurring trans fats are excluded.) This aligns with the FDA’s 2016 determination to remove the “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) status of partially hydrogenated oils, which are the main source of industrially produced trans fat. Manufacturers have since discontinued use of all industrially produced trans fat.
  • Added sugars: We now require that Kids LiveWell-qualifying items include <15 g added sugar for meals and <5 g added sugar for side dishes. Our previous criteria specified that no more than 35% of calories come from total sugar. Shifting to the added-sugars standard better aligns with the FDA’s new Nutrition Facts Panel, which sets a Daily Value (DV) of 50 grams for added sugars. Our new Kids LiveWell limit of <15 grams of added sugars for kids’ meals represents about a third of the FDA’s recommended DV; the <5-gram limit on added sugars in kids’ side dishes represents about 10% of the DV.
  • Sodium: We reduced the allowable sodium thresholds for Kids LiveWell meals and side dishes to 700 mg for kids’ meals (down from 770 mg) and 225 mg for kids’ side dishes (down from 250 mg). Our aim was to reduce sodium by 10%, in response to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendations, which suggest limiting sodium.
  • Dairy options: We removed 2% milk from the “default beverages” list, shifting to 1% and non-fat milk varieties only, following recommendations that kids consume more reduced-fat dairy products.
  • Fried foods: Fried foods are no longer prohibited as Kids LiveWell menu items, but are not encouraged. If included, they must meet all Kids LiveWell nutrition criteria.

Questions? Contact Jeff Clark at the National Restaurant Association.