Would You Like Apples or Fries With That?

By Becky Larson, SacMidtown.com

The question of who is responsible for what our kids eat has become a controversial subject with the reality of youths’ increasing waistlines.  More than one-third of children ages 10 – 17 are obese or overweight and for the first time in history many are expected to live shorter lifespans than their parents.

Childhood obesity is nothing new to local Sacramento mom Monet Parham.   Parham was highlighted on ABC News on Wednesday for filing a lawsuit along with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) against McDonald’s to force them to lower-calorie menus or get rid of the toys currently provided in Happy Meals.

It’s important to note Parham is not suing for monetary value but to instead make a point that the marketing of unhealthy foods to children will not be tolerated.

“I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ head without my permission and actually challenging what my kids want to eat,” Parham explained in a CSPI statement announcing the lawsuit.

Wednesday’s lawsuit is just the tip of the iceberg for the many rules and regulations of fast-food restaurants that will continue to pop-up over the coming years. Our neighbors in San Francisco just recently banned Happy Meal toys and this current lawsuit could mean pulling toys at a McDonald’s near you.

In my opinion, Parham makes a good argument.  When you look at the amount of advertising dollars spent every year on the marketing of unhealthy foods compared to the budget to market healthy foods, it really isn’t a fair fight.  While many would argue what a child eats is a responsibility of parents, fast-food advertising, toys and online games appeal to kids and make parents’ jobs of saying “no” even more difficult.

This advertising doesn’t just affect children.  The reality is all of us are influenced by it, especially if you live in an area where McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell are within walking distance from your home but you can’t find a grocery store or farmers’ market to buy healthy food for miles.  If you can “have it your way” in less than 3 minutes after a long, busy day instead of going home and cooking most of us would choose the easy way out and grab a burger.  And, when your thoughts of that fattening burger are further enticed by the marketing you see all around you, therein lays the epidemic of obesity.

I don’t have children of my own yet but I’m encouraged by the changes local residents like Parham are helping to make for the betterment of future generations.  Whether you agree or disagree with her perspective on this issue she’s making a statement and exposing a problem that affects not just our region but so many others as well.

You can see the full interview here.

About Jimmy Spencer

Jimmy Spencer has extensive experience in journalism and new media. As the founding editor of SacMidtown.com, Spencer combines his writing, reporting and editing skills to produce a “pretty good site about midtown.”

During the day, Spencer covers government and also covers the NBA. At night, he watches T.V. and plays on the Internet. Every now and then, he walks around his midtown neighborhood.

Spencer began his professional journalism career with The Sacramento Bee, finishing his tenure with the McClatchy-owned newspaper in the new media department.

Spencer moved to Connecticut where he continued his growth in new media as a writer/content producer for NBC Sports. Spencer also worked in media relations with the Sacramento River Cats, Minor League Baseball Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s.

Spencer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from California State University, Sacramento where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The State Hornet campus newspaper.

Spencer was raised in Marin County and currently lives in Sacramento, Calif. Spencer works in the community as a high school basketball coach in the Sacramento area.

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Posted by on Dec 16 2010. Filed under SMT Talk. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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