Let’s just start with full disclosure: I am not one of those moms who finds time to make absolutely everything from scratch (although I try) and whose children have never set foot in a fast food restaurant. In an attempt to teach them moderation and preserve my sanity, I do allow occasional treats that could include something from a fast food restaurant. They understand, however, that these are to be rare occasions and that these treats are not nutritionally ideal for their growing bodies and brains.
Ideal food comes from our organic family garden directly to the table, or from a restaurant without a soda fountain. My kids, grumble though they may, know my imperfect efforts to make the simplest home cooked meals are expressions of my love for them. One reason they grumble is that “everybody else” gets to eat fun, fast food (and fewer vegetables) more often than they do. Somehow, even if we steer clear of certain restaurants and keep the television turned off, the kids still have messages from the most masterful of all mcmarketers stuck in their innocent little brains. How did this happen?
Could it have been the times a festive, articulate Ronald McDonald showed up at the library as a regular summer reading program guest? Or was it that my kid’s favorite teachers flipped burgers for a school spirit night when a portion of sales were being donated to the school? Recently when I wanted to reward my daughter with lunch from the restaurant of her choice, she begged for McDonald’s and that elusive thing she’d heard of other kids having, called a Happy Meal.
Moms around the country are joining together in asking McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson to stop marketing fast food to their kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called marketing to children under 8 “inherently deceptive,” and “wholly exploitative,” and many moms agree. Many want a ban on junk food/fast food marketing during tv programming for children. Many also find it unsavory that McDonald’s teams up so often with institutions like schools to promote its twist on nutritional values.
Corporate Accountability International says parents need a level playing field for parents to make healthy choices for their kids. In other words, if you’re doing your best to fill more than half of your children’s plates with colorful vegetables, it’s tough to do if the norm seems like that space should be filled with fries. CAI says McDonald’s spent $115 million in 2010 alone to advertise those popular Happy Meals. No wonder, huh? Who’s out there putting millions into advertising for broccoli and carrots?
Intense, even sneaky fast food marketing to young children? I agree with #MomsNotLovingIt that parents need a break from this. If you’d like to learn more about the CAI’s efforts to stem the tidal wave of fast food marketing to your kids, visit www.MomsNotLovinIt.org for more details.