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Posts Tagged ‘childhood obesity’

Lack of exercise and overeating are easy targets to pinpoint as obesity causes, but now the Center of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is targeting toys in Happy Meals.  In a letter written to McDonalds, the CSPI “demands that McDonalds stop using toys to market Happy Meals to young children.” 

The CSPI makes very good points and it is clear to me that McDonalds, and most other fast food conglomerates, for that matter, target kids.  Heck, have you walked down a cereal aisle or the yogurt section of the supermarket?  It is all colors and cartoon characters.  This is not a new thing.

The letter states that because of the toys, kids will “pester” parents for happy meals, and thus, the kids will then consume the unhealthy box of food with loads of fat and calories, which will eventually lead to obesity.  But, will it?  I imagine if parents allowed their kids to eat happy meals everyday it could possibly lead to consuming too many calories and an overweight child.  But, this is assuming that the child is not active and that the rest of their diet is unbalanced.  This is a big IF!

I know what you’re thinking, we live in America, most of the kids are overweight and even obese, we have to do something.  And, I totally agree.  However, do we think banning toys in Happy Meals is going to reduce obesity in America?  Maybe, but I have my doubts. 

The thing I don’t like about this letter is that the CSPI insinuates that parents somehow cannot control what their children consume.  It assumes that a 5 year old is the ultimate decision maker of what goes on their plate.  If this is the case, then we have more problems than obesity in America. 

I am not trying to condone what McDonalds or other fast food giants do to get customers, I actually think its pretty shameful.  But seriously, where is the consumer responsibility?  And, to blame a new toy on obesity in America?  Really?  How often does a new toy come out?  Every new movie, every quarter?  It is certainly not everyday.

Just as I wrote about Ronald McDonald and other fictional characters in a previous post, toys are the latest scape-goat for childhood obesity.  Taking away cartoons and toys is not going to make kids skinny.  Kids need to get more activity, including in schools, eat meals at the dinner table instead of in front of the tv or in the car.  Parents need to take responsibility for what young children eat, that’s what parents are supposed to do, right? 

CSPI, I like you, but please stop making ridiculous claims that won’t do anything to curb obesity in America.  Please start spending your money on educating parents on what will make a difference: budget planning, meal planning, cooking, gardening, etc.

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I just heard that a consumer advocacy group is rallying to get Ronald McDonald banned because he has “hooked kids with unhealthy foods, spurring a deadly epidemic.”  WOW!  Who knew?  Next, we will ban Santa Claus because he is obese, the Easter bunny because he keeps delivering chocolate, and the tooth fairy, well, because I am sure he whispers in the kids’ ears to go buy all the junk food they can with the money they get from their teeth.   Now, I don’t like how McDonald’s, or most of the food industry, market their foods, but where is the personal responsibility?  Do we really think banning a scary-looking clown is going to bring down obesity rates in America?  People have gone off their rocker!!!    Don’t parents still have the final say in what their kids eat?  Are parents somehow mesmerized by Ronald McDonald?  Maybe he has some super-sized powers that I am not aware of??  Maybe he carries french fries in his pocket??  Because if it were me and Ronnie in a dark alley, I would run  and scream my bloody head off at just the sight of him.  I guess I don’t see the allure.  I don’t remember wanting to go to McDonald’s as a kid because of Ron.  McDonald’s was a treat.  Not to mention, the portions were not nearly as big as today.  Huh, maybe that could be the reason for rising obesity rates??  Large portion sizes??  People eating at fast food more??  Nah, its the fictional characters, duh!

Now, I am not stupid.  I know these companies use these characters to entice children to eat their foods.  However, I again state that parents need to be responsible for what kids eat.  I am not saying that McDonald’s should be banned from a kids diet.   I don’t have kids, but if I did, I would probably let them enjoy McDonald’s every once in awhile.  I am just saying that the parents are the adults in that relationship and should be making the choices of what is consumed in the household and what goes on their child’s plates.

Also, if we are going to ban Ronnie, then we need to look at the Cookie Monster, oh, that’s right, he’s being considered.  Well then, the Hamburgler should certainly be banned, right?  Well, he eats all the hamburgers he can steal, so he is promoting obesity and theft.  Very bad.  What about Tony the Tiger?  He makes us believe that if we eat Frosted Flakes, we will be very strong, uh, that’s not true?  Damn.  Maybe we should burn down the Keebler Elves’ house?  Just say’n, with all the cookies they’re making…seems reasonable.  Yep, I am pretty sure that if we destroy all fictional characters, obesity would also be destroyed. Down with Chef Boyardee.

I could go on and on making fun of this, but I will end my sarcasm here.  I could list the many great things that Ronald McDonald charities does for kids and families, but my real point today is that these advocacy groups and others are spending their money, probably some of our money, too, trying  to ban fictional characters and finding other ridiculous culprits for obesity.  Should we not be spending this money on educating parents and others on budgeting, meal planning, grocery shopping, and basic cooking skills?  Providing instruction on planting their own garden, seasonal foods, and canning foods for winter?  I am certainly not under the impression that all families will do this, but some will, and in doing so, they will have acquired new skills  in feeding their families, whether low or high income.

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