Cheers to Mark Bittman for his column describing how the food business is trying to regulate itself when it comes to nutrition and advertising to ‘kids’.
Junk food is still junk food…and Michelle Obama is not a nutrition expert… these are facts….and the food industry can hardly police itself when they make mega dollars from advertising to children.
McDonald’s has changed up its ‘Happy Meal’ which should be called its ‘Horrible Meal’. They took out a few fries and added apple slices to appease the complaints of pediatricians and others in nutrition and healthcare.
Mark’s comments are worth reading and even if you do buy a ‘Happy’ Meal now and then please consider making your thoughts heard about good nutrition…it is really a quality of life issue.
Another example: last week, McDonald’s promised a minor tweak of its Happy Meal, (which, of course, “can be part of a well-balanced diet for kids”) adding a few apple slices, removing a few French fries and making milk — chocolate or regular — a more prominent option. It still comes with a toy, and soda will remain a choice. (I’m not sure anyone is claiming soda is part of a healthy diet, but stay tuned.) The move received widespread praise, with Michelle Obama leading the cheers.
Self-regulation may be immediate, non-threatening and magical, but it doesn’t work.
But despite the seal of approval of our first lady/self-appointed nutrition expert, a Happy Meal with a piece of apple is still a box of branded, overpriced junk food sold not by its value but by its marketing scheme. (Forty percent of McDonald’s advertising budget is spent on marketing to kids.)
This is not “progress,” but a public relations victory along with — as Michele Simon points out in her blog — an attempt to short-circuit regulations and laws that have some guts, like the one in San Francisco that forbids the inclusion of toys in meals that don’t meet reasonable nutrition standards. The last thing McDonald’s or any like corporation wants to see is a strong, activist government protecting consumers, whether or not they’re capable of adult judgment or are habituated (a harsher word is “addicted”) to self-destructive products.
………..What’s worse? Self-serving self-regulation or toothless guidelines set by an agency that appears to be complicit in maintaining the status quo? Hard to say. What’s better is having grass roots movements that drive agencies toward real regulation