Thursday, November 18, 2010

Banning Toys in Unhealthy Fast Food Meals

With increasing concerns of childhood obesity, consumers have been voicing their demands for healthier foods.  Michele Obama has rolled out a campaign against childhood obesity, with a main focus for schools to provide healthier choices.  This is a great start, but the popularity of fast food restaurants needs to be taken into consideration as well.  According to the article Fast Food Toy Ban Gets OK in San Francisco, preliminary approval of a law prohibiting toys in kid’s meals unless those meals “include fruits and vegetables and limit calories, fat, sugar, and salt.”  Children develop a like/dislike for foods at a very early age and if fast food establishments can aid in teaching younger children to eat healthier foods, this is a huge step for battling the childhood obesity epidemic.  Skeptics may say that children learn more from what they eat at home or school, rather than from fast food “treats”, however it is estimated that children get 29-38% of their meals from fast food sources and this number is only expected to rise (Pakhare, 2009).  The article states that franchisee owners of fast food establishments are claiming that this will hurt business and make turning a profit even more difficult.  The food cost percentage of QSRs (quick service restaurants) is extremely low, which is what makes them so profitable.  I am not seeing how QSRs will lose any money because of this.  When a consumer chooses to go to a fast food restaurant it is for convenience and low price, and because of these reasons they are unlikely to go elsewhere or eat at home.  If the child does not want the healthy meal because it does not contain a toy, the money will still be spent at the same establishment on other items.  This legislation is a great start to educating children about eating healthy.

image from: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/york-councilman-toys-banned-unhealthy-happy-meals/story?id=13310267

Pakhare, J. (2009). Fast Food and Obesity in Children. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/fast-food-and-obesity-in-children.html

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