In Search of…Sunday: Nothing Happy about Happy Meals
When I was little, I thought that eating at McDonalds was a real treat. When my Happy Meal was handed over by my Mom or Dad, I’d inhale the smell of french fries and carefully open the box. I’d lay out and gaze at everything as though I were unpacking a picnic basket: hamburger: check. Fries: check. Drink: check. Toy: double check.
Fast food places didn’t have the bad rap that they do now. Within the last few years, restaurants have taken on new names that I’m sure don’t make the shareholders very happy. Hey kids, who wants to go to Burger Sling for lunch? No? How about Pondegrossa? Mmm……Pizza Butt, anyone?
Health food blogs and forums all over the web are abuzz over the recent news regarding the big McDonald’s Happy Meal Maybe you’ve heard the news: Beginning December 11, 2011, McDonalds restaurants in San Francisco will no longer be allowed to put toys into their Happy Meals unless they meet specific requirements:
- each meal must contain 600 calories or less
- It is required to have 1/2 cup of vegetables
- breakfasts must contain 1/2 cup of fruit
- there will be a multigrain requirement
- the entire meal cannot exceed 640 mg. of sodium
Spokespeople from McDonalds claimed that parents did not ask for nor do they want this regulation. Some professionals say there are lots of reasons for childhood obesity and that regulating fast food will not solve the problem. Others argue that McDonalds has the right to use whatever marketing tool they choose, just like any other company.
Those who were in support of it said that places like McDonalds pander to children by enticing them with toys from the latest movies and the hottest characters. With childhood obesity clearly on the rise, health professionals argue that reducing the consumption of unhealthy foods could save billions of dollars to the health care system.
One thing is clear, though. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years according to the Center for Disease Control. But who’s fault is it? The parents? The restaurants?
I’m very curious as to what you all think about this action. Does the government have the right to play a role in what your children should or shouldn’t eat? Are they simply stepping in on a situation that has taken on epidemic proportions or should restaurants be given the right to serve what they want to those who want it?