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NATIONAL REPORT -- Fast-food chains are often criticized for serving unhealthy fare, but a new Consumer Reports survey revealed that while better-for-you options are offered, consumers don’t put their money where their mouth is.
Only 13 percent of respondents in the study said they ordered a healthy meal when they last visited a fast-food restaurant. When the selection was narrowed down to just pizza chains, a mere four percent reported ordering something healthy.
It's not for lack of options, though. Hardee's, which operates 1,900 locations in 30 states and nine countries, and Carl's Jr., which operates 1,100 locations across the globe, offer charbroiled turkey burgers in addition to their standard beef hamburgers. And Little Caesars, which operates thousands of locations in the United States, now offers pizza crust and sauce with no animal products, according to the report.
"Indulgence wins over healthfulness every time," Darren Tristano, executive vice president of foodservice research for consulting firm Technomic Inc., told Consumer Reports.
Subway, which offers a "Fresh Fit" menu and is known for its spokesman Jared Fogle who lost nearly 250 pounds by sticking to a low-fat Subway sandwich diet, attracts more customers interested in healthy eating. Almost half of surveyed customers who visited Subway reported selecting a healthy meal.
Despite the inconsistency among consumers, fast-food chains are certainly not giving up on offering healthy options. Nineteen chains, including Burger King, Chevy's and El Pollo Loco, recently signed up to participate in the Kids Live Well Initiative, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The Initiative requires participating restaurants to offer at least one children's meal that has fewer than 600 calories, no soft drinks, and at least two items from the fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins or low-fat dairy food groups. They must also offer a side dish that contains fewer than 200 calories and derives less than 35 percent of its calories from sugar.
"Restaurants can be part of the solution to ensuring a healthier generation and providing consumer choice in dining options," said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, which developed Kids Live Well. "We look forward to announcing additional restaurants and meal options in the coming months."
According to Sweeney, the chains currently participating operate 15,000 locations nationwide.