By Chris Isidore @CNNMoneyJuly 23, 2013: 2:39 PM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Taco Bell announced Tuesday it has become the first national fast food chain to drop its kid's meals, saying it will discontinue the toy and food combos at some locations this month and across the brand by next year.
"Kid's meals and toys simply no longer make sense for us to put resources behind," said Greg Creed, chief executive officer of Taco Bell, in a statement early Tuesday. He added that the move will have an "insignificant impact on sales." Taco Bell is owned by Yum Brands(YUM), which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut. KFC plans to continue to offers its Li'l Bucket Kids Meal, but that combo does not have a toy in it. Instead, it has a "Weird But True" fact card from National Geographic.
Kids meals have been criticized by some public health groups for contributing to childhood obesity by making young children more eager to eat high-calorie, fast food meals. The decision was cheered by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which called on competitors such as McDonald's(MCD), Burger King(BKW) and Wendy's(WEN) to follow suit.
"Taco Bell is taking a constructive step forward by no longer using toys to encourage kids to pester their parents to go to a restaurant," said the group. But at the same time, it expressed concern that parents will now get adult meal combos for their children. "It's not as if its adult menu is full of health food," it said.
Fast food's healthy arms race
The CSPI said that the Jack in the Box(JACK) chain stopped using toys to market children's meals in June 2011. But Jack in the Box is not a national chain.