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Fast Food Wars: Is it a Losing Battle?

There’s a war going on between public officials, health advocates and the fast food industry. Fast food is winning.

San Francisco is supporting a measure to ban toys in fast food meals. The measure, designed to combat childhood obesity, is set to take place in December 2011.

But for anyone quick to make a knee-jerk reaction about the politics behind all of this, remember we now live in a black and white society where issues are supported purely by liberals or conservatives; and San Francisco’s mayor wants to veto the measure.

“Parents, not politicians, should decide what their children eat,” he said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The social libertarian in me sides with the mayor, in part because there are parents who take part in the occasional drive-thru with their kids (including the person typing these words), but don’t overdo it. Should our decisions be taken out of our hands because of other people’s overindulgences?

While that may sound perfectly logical, it may not be that cut and dry. The fact of the matter is there are many societal factors that influence the majority of parents. We’re overworked, underpaid, and often just don’t have time. All of this leads to many people making very bad dietary decisions.

“So what?” you say. “It’s their choice, right?”

Sure, but what is the cost – to everyone? Healthcare costs are spiraling out of control, due in large part to the fact that, like it or not, many of us are influenced by the billion dollar food industry and our busy lifestyles. This has us more obese than ever and it’s playing a large part in bankrupting the system.

Do we side with total freedom with the strong likelihood that it could ruin our country in the process, or do we take small measures that may make incremental positive changes to our food choices? I don’t know what actions will work, but we have try something, don’t we?

I’m not here to say that no toys in your Happy Meals will mean people will stop going to McDonald’s three times a week. I’m just saying that maybe we should stop looking at the problem as one side of the argument being totally in the right and the other completely wrong.

The fast food industry isn’t going to lie down and submit anytime soon. According to a new study, kids are being bombarded with fast food ads more than ever, and from every direction on the TV and the web. Here are just a handful of the findings from researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University in Connecticut:

  • Preschoolers saw 21 percent more fast food ads in 2009 than they did in 2003; teens saw 39 percent more. The average preschooler (2 to 5 years old) saw 2.8 television fast food ads every day; children from 6 to 11 years old saw 3.5 fast-food ads a day. Kids 12 and older saw 4.7 such ads every day.
  • Fast food is Americana… 84 percent of parents said they take their children to a fast-food restaurant at least once a week, and 66 percent said they went to a McDonald’s in the past week.
  • The fast-food industry spent more than 4.2 billion dollars in 2009 on TV advertising and other media.
  • Marketing to children did not encourage kids to eat healthier foods, rather it focused on toy giveaways and building brand loyalty.

I don’t know, maybe we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, but shouldn’t we go down with a fight?

(via: MoneyControl.com & News24.com)

November 11th, 2010

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(Page 1 of 1, 6 total comments)

fluffy

when it comes to goverment control less is better keep their blood soaked hands and minds off the food

posted Dec 10th, 2011 10:41 pm



tdelay

I understand that each family needs to individually decide how they are going to eat. The problem is that the choice is made too easily FOR us already. McDonald's is cheap, fast and comes with a toy to please the little ones. It's hard to pass that up sometimes. I don't think fast food should be banned, that would be like banning candy. Or fat. It's crazy.

I DO think it's perfectly reasonable not to let them market so explicitly to children. We don't let cigarette, alcohol or heavily caffeinated products appeal to such small kids, so why would we let McDonald's?

I do agree with the point that Brian made. The money (and effort) spent to enforce a fast food ban should be spent on more important things. We need to convince the world that REGARDLESS of what kind of food is offered (even if it comes with a toy) you have to make smart health choices. We can't micro-manage the world.

posted Nov 11th, 2010 3:56 pm


Tami cox

I think it requires both parents and government. Parents should be making healthy choices for their kids but obviously there are a lot that don't. Kids want the toy in those kids meals so if the put them in healthier versions kids will eat them. His kids have adult diseases and may die before their parents so if parents are gonna help there own kids somebody needs to.

posted Nov 11th, 2010 3:25 pm


FBGJenn

Food marketing to kids is so pervasive these days. I remember as a kid loving the toy in the Happy Meal and wanting to get it specifically for the toy -- and not the food. And let's not forget that fast food is ladden with fat and sugar -- which actually can pump out addictive-like chemicals in the brain.

If we can't impose marketing regulations on fast food, I'd at least like to see fruits and veggies get the same sort of marketing budget. In a perfect world, right?

posted Nov 11th, 2010 3:24 pm


userfile
Brian C

Great article Jason - I don't think banning unhealthy food is the right approach. That effort would be better spent on education.

posted Nov 11th, 2010 3:16 pm


userfile
Kelly Turner

I think that before we had a nationwide obesity epidemic and our children had a shorter life expectancy than their parents, it's ok to say that it is the parent's choice, but obviously they aren't doing what they need to do to protect their children- because they eat the same way.

The option to eat fast food is always going to be there for those who can do it responsibly (or irresponsibly, too), but I think not marketing directly to children with tactics that we know work on them is a good place to start.

It's up to parents to teach their children to stay away from drugs, but that doesn't mean we don't hold dealers shoving drugs in kids' faces accountable.

posted Nov 11th, 2010 3:13 pm



   
 

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