Notes on Food Culture: Healthy Fast Food Kids Meals

RECENTLY, FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS LIKE McDonald’s and Burger King┬áhave made news by offering healthier kids meals. But will it really make a difference in the fight against obesity?Eating fast food is a lifestyle.

Families who eat fast food on a regular basis do it as a part of their lifestyle and weekly meal plan. A family who eats McD’s or BK weekly or more probably isn’t eating the healthiest options the rest of the time. Even the home-cooked meals probably contain a lot of heat-and-eat and processed foods and few fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating fast food on a frequent basis sets a food culture for kids to follow. A few apple slices aren’t going to change the idea that it’s okay to include foods high in fat and sodium as a part of a regular diet.

Families who only rarely eat fast food set the example that it’s a special treat, not something to be consumed as a part of the weekly menu. These families likely have more fresh fruit and vegetables in their regular diet so while they might be happy to see apples and milk as options, it doesn’t make a huge impact since the meal was a treat.

A healthy option won’t offset all the other crap.

Offering some apple slices with fries and nuggets is like plugging a hole in a dam with your finger. Just like having a Diet Coke with your fries isn’t making you thinner, apples with your fries isn’t making you healthy. Sure, chocolate milk may be more wholesome than soda, depending on the ingredients, but there’s 29 grams of sugar in about 12 oz of Coke and 25 grams of sugar in one container of the McD’s chocolate milk, plus it has high fructose corn syrup, carrageenan, and artificial flavor. How much of a difference is it making?

When I think about it this way, the apples and milk are, well, kind of pointless. At least, that’s my opinion.

Give your opinion below.

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2 comments for “Notes on Food Culture: Healthy Fast Food Kids Meals

  1. Simba
    September 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Why would carrageenan be bad?

  2. Tamra
    October 25, 2011 at 3:27 am

    Let’s be clear about better “Happy Meal” choices: You do not add apples to your fries; you are REPLACING the fries with apples. And who said anything about chocolate milk? (Why would anyone give a child chocolate milk?)
    We stop at the McD now and then, and we’ve always had a small burger with fresh apple slices (no caramel sauce) and lowfat white milk. And my child has never complained about that, because the “treat” is the little toy surprise, not numerous grams of fat and sugar.

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