Monday, June 11, 2012

Junk Food and Kids: WE Are the Solution

I was disappointed this weekend to see Chick-fil-A advertising on PBS Kids. We watch PBS in our house almost exclusively to avoid commercials for junk and fast food, but those marketers are smart cookies. They're finding us. Nooooo!

Then I learned that the Chick-fil-A grilled chicken nuggets kids' meal has been ranked as the worst "healthy" kids meal by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and I got really upset. PBS is one of the jewels of our civilization and they are resorting to accepting advertisement revenue from a fast food company that markets a meal to children that contains the same amount of cholesterol as a Big Mac. 

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But is there change on the horizon? Disney announced last week that they will ban advertisements for junk food during kids programming. They're not implementing the ban until 2015 and it's only for meals over 600 calories (still a whopping percentage of our recommended daily calories), but the message is becoming more clear: if our government won't create policy to reverse our obesity trend, some corporations are willing to step in and do it themselves. 

And speaking of which, this is where we as parents can make a huge dent in the problem: 
One of my readers expressed dismay that she had told her kids that grilled chicken was better than fried in the drive through. And, in the world of food, of course grilled chicken is better than fried! But remember, fast food is not really food. Its food-like product. So, the rules of food do not apply. We have to stop buying fast food and calling it nutrition. 

Even though we're busy.

Lots of parents I know sheepishly confess that they drive through and get fast food for their kids "once in a while," when they are in a pinch. But my sheepish reader hit the nail on the head when she realized: "I guess the trick is to avoid getting in a pinch." Bingo.

I get that you're busy and tired. I'm busy and tired too. Trust me. I'm freaking exhausted. But I'm not too tired to make my kid a sandwich. Seriously, in the amount of time it takes to sit in a drive through line, you could have made a pb&j, sliced up an apple, and tossed it in an insulated bag for in case someone gets hungry in between soccer and ballet. Grab some snack-size zip locks, put in a little box of raisins and some whole grain crackers and you've got yourself a snack. Yes it takes planning and yes it requires thought but these are our children. They are worth the 15 minutes.

And while you're at it, contribute early and often to your local PBS station. They depend on viewer support to remain commercial-free, and as a parent I want to be able to get the theme song from "Martha Speaks," stuck in my head without supporting companies that are part of the obesity problem.

Get out there and get healthy today...just not in the drive through, please!


Linda said...

You're absolutely right, Heather. It's a great reminder. I'll admit that I'm often guilty of buying fast food because it's easy and it keeps the kids happy. But they're worth the extra time it takes to feed them at home.

Healthy Heather said...

Yes, they are. And it doesn't take that much time once it becomes part of your routine. I remember when I had that ah-ha moment of trying to find something healthy on a fast food menu board and realizing I could have avoided the whole situation if I had just made myself a dang sandwich. That was about five years ago and I haven't eaten fast food since!