Brave may be Disney’s latest movie, but it’s the corporation’s latest move that draws applause from me.
Last week, Disney put its considerable corporate weight behind efforts to fight disturbing trends in childhood obesity, announcing it would no longer accept ads marketing junk food to kids. You can download Disney’s healthy food guidelines here.
With nearly one-third of American children obese, Bravo! to Disney for recognizing that marketing unhealthful foods to kids is a contributing factor, as the Institute of Medicine reported to Congress in 2006.
One company likely to be impacted by Disney’s new guidelines is McDonald's.
While Disney is changing the food marketing game, McDonald’s shareholders rejected a proposal to assess the impacts “growing public concern” and “evolving public policy” will have on the corporation’s finances and operations.
McDonald’s incoming CEO Don Thompson characterized the company as being very responsible in its marketing to children. True, the company automatically puts apple slices in each Happy Meal now. But that toy is still there. How is marketing food with toys responsible?
I’ve used a number of techniques to help curb the junk and fast food consumption in my household. When they were young and gullible, I told the kids that their favorite fast food place was closed, never mind that it was three o’clock in the afternoon.
I’ve taught my kids to look at the labels on the foods they want to eat. I learned something in our label lesson, too. All of the information given is based on consuming 2,000 calories a day. At just about 55 pounds, my daughter needs only 1500 calories per day. One of her favorite yogurts supplies eight percent of her big brother’s carbohydrate allowance while giving her 16 percent. Fat and sodium figures worked out similarly.
My son wouldn’t eat a yogurt if you paid him, though. His downfall is soda; he consumes it every opportunity he gets. I successfully eliminated it from our house for a while; it began to sneak back in at my husband’s instigation. So, I decided to show my son exactly how much sugar he consumes when he drinks a beverage.
As a parent, being certified to teach science has its advantages. I set my electronic scale for “grams” and measured out the amount of sugar my son was getting in his daily beverage intake. It wasn’t pretty, about half a cup of sugar. He slowed down for a while but I’m considering a soda ban again.
Getting healthy food into children is never easy; parents struggle with it every day. Moves like Disney’s really help. Smaller portions and labeling based on the calorie needs of children, in foods marketed to them, would also help. It’s too bad McDonald’s doesn’t think they can do more. Ultimately, though, it’s my responsibility to make sure my kids eat as healthfully as possible.
Do you limit fast food in your family? Tell us in comments.