America’s obesity problem is by no means breaking news. In the past 50 years, the number of obese American adults has increased by 20 percent, placing the United States amongst the top 10 fattest countries in the world.
Is this a result of our poor eating habits, decline of physical activity or simply a lack of self-control, or perhaps a combination of each?
The city of San Francisco evidently believes the reason lies within poor eating habits and advertising directed primarily at children. In an attempt to turn children off to the idea of unhealthy foods, city supervisors have recently passed an ordinance to ban the sale of toys with McDonald’s Happy Meals that do not fall under a specific set of nutrition stipulations.
The ordinance also will require McDonald’s to rethink their signature Happy Meal ingredients, adding more fruits or vegetable options in an attempt to make them healthier.
What San Francisco is doing is understandable and respectable; however, I feel that it will by no means be successful in warding off the growing problem of childhood obesity.
First of all, since when has not getting a toy with your junk food been a turn-off? Yeah, it’s definitely a nice treat, having one of those little Pokémons, or whatever kids play with these days, after your 10-piece chicken nugs.
But if a free toy isn’t provided, will that really be enough of a turn off? I’d believe it’s safe to assume that most parents take their kids to get a Happy Meal so they can enjoy some low-priced comfort food; the toy is just a bonus. I don’t know about today’s kids, but I can safely say that as a child I never turned down a cheeseburger due to a lack of a complimentary Power Rangers bobble head.
Also, suppose that McDonald’s does successfully restructure its Happy Meal, providing more healthy alternatives to the standard burger and fries. Would children actually still beg their mothers and fathers for one?
Perhaps they would if healthy foods were already a commonplace part of their diet. But unfortunately, the majority of children just eat crap, and the last thing they are going to beg mom and dad for is a Happy Meal consisting of celery and peanut butter. That is not a Happy Meal, that is a Disappointed Meal.
Ultimately, what this comes down to is the fact that rising obesity trends are attributed to a lack of individual self-control, and in the case of childhood obesity, for the most part, parents not knowing when to say no. Obviously, the consumption of fat-laden, greasy foods makes you unhealthy and overweight, but it’s every person’s choice as individuals whether or not to eat said food.
I guess what makes me the most upset about this issue is the fact that the American people have lost so much self-control and willpower that they need preventative legislation to ensure their personal health.
American parents need not rely on laws and regulations to help guide their children’s nutrition. It’s common knowledge that fast-food is unhealthy and individuals should always be conscious of their children’s and their own eating habits.
We know the facts. Legal action need not apply. Eat what you know is healthy, exercise, and bring your kids up right. It’s as simple as that.