The time for dealing with children running around your otherwise-quiet restaurant while hopped up on sugar might be over — if you’re dining at Applebee’s or IHOP, that is. While soft drinks will still be available upon request, the holding company of both restaurants, DineEquity, has announced that it will no longer be listing them on their children’s menus.

In an age of rising levels of childhood obesity, DineEquity’s move makes a bold statement that it's time to wean our children — and ourselves — off of sugar. The company follows in the footsteps of other large food chains, such as Wendy’s and Dairy Queen, which have already taken similar measures. However, the other food chains that have acted thus far have been fast food companies, while Applebee’s and IHOP are the first family-style chain to take the drinks off their children's menus. Soda and other drinks with massive amounts of sugar might just be going out of fashion.

Why is everyone trying to drop soda like it’s hot... err cold? Well, it doesn’t help that we’re learning more and more about the adverse impacts of too much daily sugar intake. Think diabetes, tooth decay, and obesity. Understandably, lots of researchers, advocate groups, and parents aren’t feeling too excited about seeing those sorts of consequences in kid’s lives.

Removing soft drinks from menus is an appealing step given how addictive sugar is. Research has shown symptoms of withdrawal from sugar to include “headaches, nausea, and shaky hands.” We all probably know anecdotally how hard it is to let go of our regular sugary drink fixes, even when we know they aren’t healthy for us. Perhaps a change in menu might help us change our ingrained habit to reach for that soda.

With the average American drinking 45 gallons of soda a year, we’re still far from a healthy future. But by reducing how often we run across sugar in our daily lives, we just might be starting to gain momentum in getting there.


Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors.  Follow her on Twitter:@stefanicox