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  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view cynthiafalar's profile
    Posted November 14, 2010 by
    vero beach, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your kid's meal toys

    More from cynthiafalar

    Kids Meals – Not a Mega Deal!


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     cynthiafalar believes that both restaurants and consumers need to take action against unhealthy diets. 'I think it is good business for restaurants to serve healthy options. I also think it is the responsibility of the consumer/parent to make healthy decisions,' said cynthiafalar. 'Too many people want to blame everyone else for their problems. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions. As parents, we need to teach our children about healthy eating, eating in moderation and learning about the relation between intake and exercise.'
    - nhieatt, CNN iReport producer

    My opinion may not be popular. However, I feel convinced that it needs to be shared. I really do not think mandating healthy kid’s meals with toys will make a difference. In fact, I think it is a big joke.

    Why do a bunch of health nuts think that forcing fast food joints to serve healthy kids will cure the obesity problem of our youth?

    If you really want to “cure” the problem, you need to spend time with the parents that have overweight children. You really need to understand what they are up against. And you really must impart some understanding and encouragement. Yes, you may want to park your judgment and spend a day in their shoes.

    Here is what I know: I have a child at the other end of the spectrum. He is orally defensive. Eating is a chore. One of the few things he will eat is food from the golden arches. That toy is an incentive to consume nutrients.

    On the other extreme is his buddy – a kid that is extremely overweight for his age and size. They are sort of bonded by their severe ends of the weight spectrum.

    Here is my point: Does his mother know there is a problem? Yes, she does. And she is trying hard to fix it. I think this mom, is like many parents, she grew up very poor. She tried to give her kids all that she never had. The point is that she did not wake up and decide to make her kids fat. It was the result of her family heritage.

    If you really want to change the behaviors of obesity then you need to dive deeper than a kid’s meal. It’s really about changing the fabric of a family culture. Or perhaps it’s more about educating people about how their choices will impact their families. After all no one wakes up and says, “I think I will become fat today!”

    When you stop and visit with someone who is big, you learn that their love for food goes far deeper than a simple Happy Meal. There are socio-economic differences and pressures that bring them and their children to the point they are at.

    You should not assume that they are not already working on it. Often, they are trying to reverse years and even generations of inactivity and over eating. A bag of apple slices instead of fries is not going to reverse this culture overnight.

    Like many things in life it starts with small and gradual steps. It takes the kind encouragement of others and innovative programs to help change a culture. It will not happen overnight. And it does not begin with a mandate of a kid’s meal. It’s launched with a program that reaches out and offers understanding, education and alternatives. It’s slow. But it is achievable through hope, love and understanding. The toy is just a reminder that we all need a carrot to lead us to better decisions.

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