Nutrition Talk: “UN-Happy Meals”
Exiting the cinema after watching Guardians of the Galaxy, I asked my baby cousins what they wanted for dinner. Almost instantaneously they both yelled “McDonald’s!”. Not giving it much thought at first we headed over to the nearest McDonald’s. Upon asking what my 4-year-old cousin wanted to eat she replied “chips, nuggets, coke and a toy.”
A toy? Since when does a piece of plastic molded into a shape of a princess classify as a food item? It made me ponder where the problem started. Was it just McDonald’s that was using this tactic? But then I realized that other fast food restaurants such as KFC and Burger King were also giving out toys with their meals.
This is where the problem emerges. The toy acts as a bait to reel kids into consuming these highly caloric meals. Calories aren’t even the main culprit, it’s the ingredients that make the meals unhealthy. High amounts of sodium and sugars are used as well as preservatives to add flavor to the foods and prevent them from perishing over long periods of times. The saying “fat is flavor” is portrayed here very vividly. All of this combined completely nullifies any health aspect that could have been present in these meals.
A study performed in Yale found that 40 percent of children between the ages of 2-11 ask to go to McDonald’s every week. If the toy is removed the urge to go to McDonald’s will automatically be reduced and hence the consumption of burger and fries will go down.
But I gave the issue some thought, at the end of the day, parents are the ones who are willingly taking their kids to these fast food restaurants. They are the one allowing their children to consume these unhealthy meals. However, upon researching more, the statistics show that it’s not just the parents who are at fault, the children are asking them to take them to the fast food restaurants as they want to increase their toy collection.
Recently, San Francisco placed a ban on toys with unhealthy happy meals. I feel like it shouldn’t stop at San Francisco. This change should be made worldwide because children are our priority and their health is very important. Implementing this may not be that easy as there will may clashes between law and industry but it will bring positive changes.