Don’t blame the burger joint
Campaigns to ban Ronald McDonald and toys in kid’s meals seem a little out of place to me.
I think fast-food restaurants have begun to recognize the obesity problem, and, with pressure from local governments, have started to make some positive change. McDonald’s will now include apple slices without the sugary sauce in every happy Meal, and Jack-in-the-Box has stopped including toys in kid’s meals. Still, these restaurants are not the best choice for kids and adults when it comes to nutrition.
My child wouldn’t know Ronald McDonald apart from any other clown, and he certainly isn’t buying happy meal for the “junky toy” as we call it around our house. By now at age 5, he would have heard about or seen commercials for fast food and kid’s meals, but if I hadn’t bought him that first french fry, he never would have gotten the bug.
As parents, we know how unhealthy fast food is, and it’s our choice whether or not we opt for a drive-through meal over a home-cooked one.
I know it’s not easy to have a constant supply of food and drinks on the go, especially in Arizona’s heat. Since both my children have food allergies I always have to have a snack bag on hand, and pack special treats when we go to parties, putt-putt or play dates. Yes, it takes more time and sometimes it costs more money, but it’s worth it to know that the food they’re eating is healthy and approved by me.
Of course, eating well isn’t just up to parents, their educators and other authority figures should help out, too.
When I drive my son to school, I pass another school that advertises on its billboard, “Meet at (insert fast food restaurant name here) Day.” Also, to sign up for soccer, players and parents are asked to pay and sign the paperwork at a local fast food joint.
While both of these instances make no sense to me — wouldn’t the park be a better spot? — the latter is especially irritating. Here we are signing our kids up for a fun, social, outdoor sport, yet meet at a restaurant that offers poor food choices and an indoor playground. I bet every kid who went in to sign up left with a belly full of burger. Even mine did.
Fast food not banned from our older son’s diet, but it is for the 1-year-old. Still it’s an occasional treat reserved for times when we’re traveling by car or plane, and even then he’s limited to only a few items.
Protesting against Ronald McDonald is a little like protesting the Easter Bunny. We’re the ones responsible for the food our kids consume. We need to make healthy choices for them while they are young, and educate them so when they are older they’ll make them on their own.