Pub operators have responded to increased concern from parents over the sugary contents in their children’s drinks by adapting menus.
Nutrition charity The Soil Association has been calling on consumers to sign its pledge to commit hospitality venues to make water more accessible and stop serving sugary drinks to children.
JD Wetherspoon (JDW) and Brewers Fayre ranked highly in the charity’s Out to Lunch league table, which evaluated the healthy food and drink options at major UK restaurant and pub chains.
The charity noted JDW promoted milk and water and offered juice portions of 150ml, the equivalent to one of the five fruit/veg portions a day and the Public Health England-recommended size.
The recommended daily maximum sugar for children is 19g to 30g, depending on their age, however the National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed the average child consumes around 52g per day.
Barbara Crowther, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, which focuses on children’s health and wellbeing, told The Morning Advertiser the pub trade was making progress against sugary drinks.
She said: “Including cola or other fizzy drinks as part of kids’ menus makes it much harder for parents to ensure a pub meal is a healthy one for their children.
“So it’s really good to see the pub trade increasingly swapping out sugary fizzy drinks on kids’ menus for healthier options, including plain milk and water, as well as ensuring responsible portion sizes for drinks containing fruit juice.”
Barbara Cossins, owner of the Langton Arms in Dorset, has seen a huge increase in parents insisting children drink tap water and shunning fizzy beverages.
She said: “Not only is it much healthier for them, it is also less costly when you are treating the whole family to a meal out in a nice pub.
“Plus tap water from the Dorset countryside is an appealing option compared to if we were a city pub. We put complimentary cold glass bottles of water on every table for all our diners.”
The Langton Arms also stocks J20 drinks and a traditional apple and orange juice from a local supplier for children.
Cossins added: “These would be the most common alternative for children because there has been a huge reduction in the demand for fizzy drinks for youngsters.
“It seems that health consideration is even more of a consideration for kids than adults.”
Despite health being high on consumers’ agendas, pubs still have to cater to customers who see a trip to the pub as a chance for their children to indulge.
Rosie Dowd-Smyth, licensee at the Fat Pug, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said its site stocks a wide range for children including healthier options sold at cheaper prices.
She said: “We also do a kids’ hot chocolate – a decadent choice – to be whispered to the parents and used as a bartering tool.
“This comes in a small plastic cup, with an opulent amount of cream and marshmallows, this makes for very quiet, content children.”
The pub started to stock premium fruit and mixed juices in response to concerns about children’s health, though said most parents order tap water for their children.
Dowd-Smith added: “The bottles look fancy, which makes the children feel like they are getting a treat.
“We add fruit like oranges and raspberries to drink, and this can make a very simple drink look appealing – if this is served to the child with a smile, the child feels very special.”