A big thumbs up to Santa Clara County Supervisors who approved an ordinance this week that only allows toys in fast food Kid’s Meals that meet certain nutrition conditions. I think this is a great first step in encouraging healthier eating practices.
As a San Jose-based fitness business owner, I applaud Supervisor Ken Yeager for spearheading legislation that encourages better nutrition choices. The toughest thing I do with my in-home personal training clients and members of my fitness boot camps in San Jose is help them make better food choices. Old habits are hard to change. Getting kids (and their parents!) accustomed to making better food choices is a move in the right direction.
Some opponents see this as the government telling us what we can or can’t eat. I don’t see it that way. As I understand it, the ordinance doesn’t say someone can’t eat a high fat, low fiber, high sodium meal. It simply doesn’t allow restaurant chains within unincorporated areas of San Jose to put toys in meals that contain too much fat, sugar or sodium. Kids can still get the toys. Mom and Dad will just have to purchase a healthier meal to get them.
On the news today, I heard a parent say that she’d buy her child the healthier meal choice in order to continue getting the toys for her daughter–but that her daughter would probably throw out the fresh fruit in the meal. Wow. Kids learn how to eat through social cues within their family and in their environment. If they get more fresh fruit and less fried junk, maybe we can get them to make better choices as adults. What a concept!
I believe that as Americans, we should have the freedom to choose what we eat. But let’s face it—a great many Americans are making lousy food choices. Every day. Is that their prerogative? Sure. In fact, a once in a while meal at a fast food joint is fair game, if you ask me. Some kids are frequenting these fast food joints several times a week, though. Maybe it is time to begin educating people on better nutrition. If they’re going to hit the fast food joint, let’s reward the purchase of healthier menu options.
Look at just about any elementary school campus at recess and you’ll see way too many chubby and downright obese kids in the school yard. Those kids are our future. It is said that children born today will potentially have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to the rising level of obesity. We can stem this explosion in obesity by encouraging people, especially children, make better food choices. I believe good nutrition begins at home with parents buying good food and setting good examples. However, a little nudge in the right direction when eating out is a good idea (sadly, some kids eat out more often than they eat in).
This ordinance is a step in the right direction. At this time, it only involves a small number of restaurants in San Jose. People can choose to patronize restaurants in San Jose that aren’t bound to the ordinance–but the precedent has been set. In areas that must abide by the ordinance, kids and their parents still have the freedom of choice, but they’ll be rewarded by making a better choice. Yes! Let the nutrition re-education begin!
Thank you Supervisor Yeager, for putting forth legislation to help consumers make better nutrition choices.
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Committed to your fitness success,
For more information on this story, please read Mercury New writer Tracy Siepel’s article in todays paper.