Thursday, August 7, 2008

In the news: Kids and fast-food

Recently the Center for Science in the Public Interest released a report that looked into the nutritional quality of kids' meals at thirteen major restaurant chains. They found that 93% of 1,474 possible choices at the thirteen chains exceed 430 calories (an amount that is one-third of what the National Institute of Medicine recommends that children ages 4-8 should consume in a day). This got me thinking...are people really looking to feed their children healthfully at fast-food restaurants, and if they are, then what exactly is the fast-food restaurants' responsibility concerning this issue?
Quite frankly, I don't have much sympathy for those individuals who are upset that fast-food restaurants do not offer more healthy food choices. There was a time when a family could not drive-through for dinner, and if you planned on eating on-the-road, you had to pull out the cooler and fill it with sandwiches and fruit. Really, is it that hard to plan ahead? I understand that fast-food is usually the cheapest way to go when we are in a hurry, but if we find ourselves in that predicament every night, then we have a greater problem. If we are only running through for dinner on occasion, then a 450-calorie meal isn't going to catapult our child into obesity. 
As for the fast-food restaurants . . . I argue that they are getting better. By no means are fast-food chains healthy choices, but they seem to be offering more options like fruit cups and yogurt. The report found Subway to offer the healthiest choices for a child, and that is no surprise. Subway brings a much healthier image to my mind than Burger King or McDonalds. I would expect Subway to offer the same healthy choices to kids as they offer to adults.
Overall, the report does not alarm me. It notes that eating out now accounts for a third of children's daily caloric intake, and the Center's nutrition policy director states that "America's chain restaurants are setting parents up to fail." I disagree. If a parent is failing to serve his/her child healthy meals, the only one to blame is the parent.

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