I’m the first to admit that the trip to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal has been a not uncommon experience for both of my daughters. I’m very well aware that they are not the most nutritionally sound dinner options, but once in a while the little flimsy cardboard box containing McNuggets, fries, and a toy is just the way to go. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, however, is coming down hard on Happy Meals, taking the fast food giant to task for “predatory marketing practices” by using cheap plastic toys to get kids eating fatty junk.
California’s Santa Clara County has already taken the first step, actually banning toys from the Happy Meal package. This is in the name of combating childhood obesity, a cause that First Lady Michelle Obama has faced head on. As an increase in obesity rates continue, the fast food industry is facing growing pressure.
In New Hampshire, 33 percent of third-graders are overweight or obese, according to a recent state Department of Health and Human Services survey. It’s part of a rising trend of childhood obesity in the state fueled by unhealthy eating habits — including fast food — and a lack of exercise, said Lisa Bujno, bureau chief of DHHS’s Division of Public Health.
She said McDonald’s isn’t all to blame.
“An occasional Happy Meal isn’t going to be a problem,” Bujno said. “It all goes back to what you take in and what you expend for energy … It’s about choices.”
You know, I can’t help but feel that the focus is on the path of least resistance here. It’s a lot easier to point the finger at Mickey D’s or BK for foisting junk food on our children, but I very strongly believe that the bigger emphasis should be on increasing physical activity.
I offer as an example my younger daughter. She is picky to the extreme and adamantly refused to eat anything but pizza, fried chicken tenders, and cheese for the first half of her life. She’s six now and has expanded her repertoire to cookies, chips, macaroni and cheese, and tuna fish sandwiches. Oh, and Happy Meals.
Before you come down on me too hard here, please know that there are veritable tons of fruits, vegetables, protein-heavy snacks, and yogurt around. This child’s older sister would rather have blueberries than chocolate and actually seeks out broccoli. Furthermore, the strictly enforced expectation is that she has to eat a bite of everything at the dinner table. I keep hoping that her dietary horizons will broaden, but it hasn’t happened yet.
The thing is, …
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