Fast food chains make changes to fight childhood obesity

Summer days are anything but lazy and hazy. With swimming lessons, parties with friends, family reunions and summer school activities, it seems like families are just as busy as they are in the school year. This busyness has made it so families are spending less time in the kitchen (and who wants to spend time in the kitchen when it is blazing hot outside) and more time outside with activities. While this seems like the ultimate dream, it is actually reeking havoc on the diets on the kids.

When at school, kids are guaranteed a lunch meal at a consistent time. Summer is anything but consistent, making regular and healthy meals at a premium. In between swim lessons and dance class, parents are desperate for a quick way to squeeze in lunch.

This need and desire for a quick meal is the driving force and marketing ploy of the McDonald’s Happy Meal. This meal has come to the rescue of many a hungry children and their frazzled parents. This meal should be a lifesaver, right?

It turns out that not everybody is a fan. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has routinely criticized the Happy Meal, as well as many children nutritional advocates. You see, the Happy Meal is not considered to be the most healthy meal in the planet. Actually, quite the opposite. Some family advocates even declared that Ronald McDonald was a bad role model for kids and should be removed from commercials. (Let’s be honest. Ronald was never the one that sold the hamburger for me.)

Recently the Mickey D’s hate increased saying that the hamburger chain was misrepresenting the caloric count on menu items.

But the Hamburlger and the rest of the McDonald’s gang was not going to take the disapproval lying down. Now parents have options to make the Happy Meal more healthy. Instead of fries, you could get apples. Or a mixture of the two. And the portion size of the fries will be decreased.  With the new changes to the menu the meal comes in just above 400 calories.

While this battle will continue to be ongoing between nutritional advocates and fast good restaurants, it brings the debate of children health to the forefront.

Childhood obesity is on the rise, and the increase is scaring a lot of parents and health professionals. Personal health insurance costs are skyrocketing as overweight children have more health problems, like heart problems, short of breath, extra pressure on joints, etc.

Most of the criticism of childhood obesity is not directed at the parents and their health habits, but to the fast food companies that market especially to children. The fast food companies are taking a big brunt of the blame, but are showing great strides by listening to the public and their concerns, says a children’s health advocate.

But while companies like McDonald’s are making changes to add fruit to their meals, I think it would be remiss to keep parents out of the equation. Only 11% of Happy Meals were ordered with the fruit. Now, whose fault is that?