The number of restaurant companies participating in the National Restaurant Association/Healthy Dining's Kids LiveWell program has tripled since its launch in July.

Currently, 68 restaurant brands representing more than 20,000 locations have committed to "Kids LiveWell," a voluntary program that provides parents with a growing selection of healthful children's menu choices when dining out. The initiative focuses on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.

"Parents are looking for healthful menu options for their children, and America's restaurants, from chain restaurants to smaller independent operators, have stepped up to the plate in an overwhelming display of support for children's nutrition," said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the NRA. "'Kids LiveWell' is just one example of how the restaurant industry is taking a proactive role in addressing our nation's healthy living challenges and providing more options for consumers."

In collaboration with Healthy Dining, the NRA launched Kids LiveWell in 2011 with 19 inaugural brand leaders. To join the program, restaurants agree to offer and promote a selection of items that meet qualifying criteria based on leading health organizations' scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. Healthy Dining's team of registered dietitians works with restaurants to identify and validate the qualifying menu choices.

The newest brands to join include: Bardenay, Black Bear Diner, Blimpie, Boudin SF, Cactus Jack's, Extreme Pita, Ground Round, Halfway Café, Ledo Pizza, Litestars, Papouli's Greek Grill, Pizza Fusion, Quaker Steak & Lube, Red Brick Pizza, Sonic, Souplantation, Sweet Tomatoes, Sushi Maki, Tony Roma's, Washington Athletic Club and Weathervane Seafoods.

Inaugural Kids LiveWell members include: Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Burgerville, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex, Chili's Grill & Bar, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny's, El Pollo Loco, Friendly's, IHOP, Joe's Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-BONES Great American Eatery and zpizza.

Together, these 40 restaurants offer 165 Kids LiveWell menu items, including more than 200 servings of fruits and vegetables.

More commitments to come

The following 28 restaurant brands have committed to the Kids LiveWell program and will be featured on in the coming months: Birchwood Café, The Common Man, Dr. Jazz Webster Groves, Edina Grill, Elephant Bar, Fat Lorenzo's, Good Earth, Groveland Tap, Highland Grill, Home Plate Café, Longfellow Grill, The Lowry, Mama Fu's, Mexico Restaurant, Muscle Maker Grill, Noodles & Company, People's Organic, Pete's Chicken-N-More, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, RedRossa Italian Grill, Ruggles Green, Shari's, Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers Dining, Shula's at the Sheraton Chicago, LB Bistro & Patisserie at the Sheraton Chicago, Stoney River, 3 Squares Restaurant and Wagamama.

Read more about health and nutrition.

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