Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who's Responsibility Is It? (aka The Happy Meal Make Over)

Hello everyone :) I hope everyone is having a happy Tuesday. I had a happy, but busy Tuesday. I had work and tutoring and I spent the time in between at school organizing. I cleaned out all my desk drawers, and 4 cabinets. The only thing I really have left to tackle is a few shelves and a closet. When I first started teaching my closet was a scary place to enter- I don't think it had been cleaned in YEARS. I found an old typewriter among other random things in there. Luckily now everything in that closet is mine, so it won't be as hard to reorganize this time. Then I can deal with actually getting ready for the year. My goal is to have things done early this year because Eric and I are going to the Cape for a week at the end of August and I don't want to have to think about it then :)

Have you heard the latest news about the Happy Meal? It's getting a makeover!

The changes are:

1. The addition of apple slices to all happy meals.

2. The reduced portion of french fries.

3. Two additional choices for a drink including fat free chocolate milk and 1% low-fat white milk.

This new happy meal (if the child gets 1% milk) has 410 calories, 19 grams of fat and 560 milligrams of sodium. These changes come as a response to some cities banning toys from happy meals because they were concerned about the nutritional quality of a happy meal. McDonalds in general are trying to make some positive changes in their menu which you can read about in the article: Happy Meal Gets a Makeover.

As a healthy person, teacher and wife of a PE teacher- I have to say I am psyched about the big focus the US seems to be putting on reducing the problem of childhood obesity right now. It seems that thanks to Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver and others, people are actually trying to change things- which is wonderful. I see such differences in the snacks and lunches of students in my class- just today I had a student with grapes and almonds for a snack and another with chips.

I am not one of those people who feels that kids have to eat healthy ALL the time. I think childhood is a time for baked treats (think brownies, cookies and cake!), the occasional bag of cheesy doritos and I couldn't possibly mention childhood without the ever popular candy! But it's also an important time to instill good eating habits in children and provide them with healthy choices on a daily basis.

I think that changing the foods served in schools and improving the nutritional value of happy meals are good steps in the right direction. However, I think something that is going to be SO hard to change, but so important is the parental influence. Parents HAVE to set a good example. Sure, it's GREAT if a kid has a "healthier" happy meal, but if the parent gets a big mac with a super size french fries... where are we then? Sure, today the child is still better off, but what about when they become a teenager, or even an adult- they may not be able to make healthy choices for themselves.

Do you think that it is enough for parents to provide their children with "healthier" (sorry I still can't call a happy meal healthy) choices when they themselves may not be making healthy choices?

How do you think we can educate and encourage parents to make healthy choices for themselves and their whole family?

PS. We also have to stop cutting PE and recess if we want healthy kids, but that's a post for another day :)


  1. Interesting info on the Happy Meal...good for McDonalds for at least trying!

  2. I saw this today in the news. I agree that in order for any changes to be made in children's diets, their parents need to jump on the wagon as well. Kids practice what they see growing up. It's imperative that the adults set good examples!!

  3. I most definitely think it is a parent issue. You need to make good decisions for your kids about what they will eat. I also think it is ABSURD to cut the toy out of happy meals/big kids meals whatever the fast food place calls it, especially when that is done by government and not the restaurant. Yes, some parents are stupid and make bad choices for their kids, and that sucks. BUt until they make you pass IQ tests/basic common sense tests to have kids you will have parents that make choices that are not the best for their kids, but damnnit at least they are feeding their kids. And I could go on and on and on about this and about recess being cut. But I will say, good for McDonald's for trying to be healthier.

  4. I think it's a parent issue. My parents did NOT eat well and I was not raised eating well and when I got to college I honestly didn't know HOW to eat properly. I thought eating a salad a day was healthy... Ha, ya not so much ifyou're also having fast food, mac and cheese etc.

    But I do think changing the happy meal is a step in the right direction and I can see things changing too. When I was in middle school our canteen was stocked with ALL bad foods. Pop, pizza pops, chocolate bars, chips etc. But now they don't sell stuff like that at my old school anymore which I think is great. This kind of change will not happen over night and any step in the right direction is a GOOD one in my opinion!

    Also, considering how athletic I am now I sure hated PE in school. Haha!

  5. I think you're totally right - parents need to be good role models. And that's way there needs to be education for children and adults alike. But some change is better than no change at all.

  6. It's a parenting issue. We had the occasional happy meal when we were children, but it was a treat when we were out shopping or something like that. It was not a regular occurrence. It saddens me that some people feed their children fast food EVERY DAY. I like that they are providing healthier options for the kids, but like you said, if mom is eating a shake and fries and a burger, it reallyh doesn't matter in my opinion. The parent has to set good examples and I really do not know how we can impact the way people parent these days...

  7. Oh that is great news! We've had apples & milk options in happy meals here for a while.

    I watch this show called X Weighted (it might be Canadian) where a nutritionist and trainer help make over a n obese family or individual. I can't get over how many parents are feeding their children (mostly) healthy foods, while stuffing their own faces with drive through garbage all day long.

    YES I believe the most important thing is feeding your kids properly BUT these kids are still learning from their parents' behavior. And really, if they want to make sure their kids are healthy - how on earth do they not see how important it is for themselves also??