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Sunday, 7 November 2010

TAKING THE HAPPY OUT OF THE HAPPY MEAL


San Francisco health authorities voted 8 - 3 to take the ‘’happy’’ out of the happy meal by forbidding McDonald’s to offer a toy with any meal that contains more than 600 calories and does not contain at least half a cup of fruit and 3/4 cup of vegetables.

Parents who have/had to raise children with their very own likes and dislikes, finicky tastes and stubborn personalities, know first hand how they have to struggle to get their children to ingest a few calories to supply them with the energy they need. Are San Francisco legislators sending parents the message that kids who totally refuse to eat fruits and vegetables should be punished and sent to the naughty stool with nothing to play just because they will not let their taste buds be dictated by their parents and legislators?

Fact: Some children will not eat what we as parents feel is best for them and we would rather see them eat less healthy than not eat at all.

Fact: It is counterproductive to punish a child because he won’t eat according to his own preferences and penalizing him for it only reinforces his refusal to comply to our dictates.

Fact: We know our children better than the state and if we feel that they won’t stubbornly refuse and pout over eating what the state deems best, we will gladly choose another place than McDonald’s to take them, toy or no toy!

But there are also some children who are the complete opposite. Inveterate gluttons who will be willing to sacrifice the toy just as long as they get to eat what they want and…more of it. So if the toy incentive to convince them to eat a reasonable size meal is no longer there, they will simply go for 2 cheeseburgers instead of one, a soft drink instead of juice and medium or large size fries instead of small. Who will this legislation have helped then? Neither the child’s health, nor the parent’s wallet.

The bottom line is that children have their own personalities, strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and who better than their parents to know how to deal with that? It is not up to legislators to make the best decisions for our children and they should butt out of the challenges we are faced with day and day out when trying to find a balance between our children’s unique personalities and the need to get them to adopt healthy choices.



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