Chicago Sun-Times
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How can a Happy Meal make us so unhappy?

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In the great debate over the McDonald's Happy Meal, picking sides is harder than it seems.

Do you go after McDonald's, which tries to entice kids into eating greasy food by including a Barbie or a Hot Wheels in its Happy Meals? Who, afterall, doesn't deserve a junky treat every now and then?

Or, do you side with McDonald's? The company calls recent attacks on the marketing of its Happy Meal insulting and over-the-top. They have a point. Last month the Center for Science in the Public Interest likened McDonald's to the "stranger in the playground handing out candy to children."

McDonald's says parents are the ones who ultimately decide what their children can or cannot eat.

But do they?

In a world saturated with marketing messages, it's tougher and tougher to convince your kids that carrots, apples and raisins really are better than a Happy Meal.

In a Chicago Tribune story Thursday, New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle said McDonald's aggressive marketing may have been fine when it was "considered a family treat (once a year on birthdays) and childhood obesity was a rare phenomenon."

Those days are over. McDonald's is now a staple for many families and about one-third of all children are overweight or obese.

Marketing by McDonald's has already worked its magic. It's time to dial it back.

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9 Comments

It seems absurd that parents are supposed to be supervised in what they feed their children. McDonald's should have to clearly post the calorie content and nutritional information on the happy meals, but the choice should remain with the parents.

Foods high in cholesterol are best avoided but the one thing that raises cholesterol more than anything else are foods that have high levels of saturated fats. Say NO to fatty meats and most takeaway foods. There are plenty of healthy recipes to have your favorite foods prepared with healthy ingredients. Even frying with sunflower or canola oil can actually reduce your cholesterol because they contain plant sterols - know to reduce LDL Cholesterol http://bit.ly/d454ZR

My goodness, have some backbone people. We told our kids Mc Donald's was "treat food" that we ONLY ate on vacation (also in that category: doughnuts, high sugar cereal and soda). We would always stop at a Mc Donalds on the road and would make a trip there over winter vacation if we weren't traveling. Of course, when the kids were in 5th grade they saw "SuperSize Me" at school and after that they totally refused to ever eat there again. On our last road trip it was my husband and me who were pleading with them "Come on, once a year is fine!" But nope, they were adamaent "It's DISGUSTING!"

Leave McDonalds alone and clean your house from the inside out. If you are any kind of a parent, you control what goes into your kids mouth from birth to about 16. With the exception of your child being in someone elses care at meal time. Quit blaming McDonalds for the obesity problem. People are the reason obesity exists, not McDonalds. People are just dumb if they think otherwise. Carry some self-responsiblity once in awhile.

Dial it back! Absolutely! I am unable to avoid the commercials, radio, TV, Billboards in the sky, wrappers at my feet. Golden arches everywhere(and seagulls).
Kids screaming: " BAAAHHH, I dont want salad, I wanna happymealllllll"
Courts dictating: "You are ordered to take your child to Mcdonalds, because -eat salad or starve- is not acceptable parenting. "

Besides, when is the toilet EVER clean?
"Think E.coli, Botulism, Salmonella, Toulmain tapeworms."

The toys and the playland are the ONLY reason we go to mcdonalds.. We like the little toys we get once or twice a month.. we get some junk food, some play time, a little toy that's about a recent movie usually, and some ice cream (flavored frozen product)

Remove the happy meals toys from happy meals, and they are useless.

You want to know what my gripe is? When they advertise toys that they don't have. Their workers often end up stealing the best toys and selling them on ebay.. like the alvin and the chipmunks talking toys, for example. It's their 'policy' to 'substitute' for crap toys we have 3 of already like a smelly shrek doll or a amelia earhart desk/airplain from night at the museum two.. Bait and switch.

What I find funny are people who think that making hamburger helper is somehow more nutritious...

McDonalds is unfairly treated. Other fast food restaurants do not provide the same level of nutritional data as McDonalds and nobody cares. This sounds like parents trying to blame someone besides themselves. It isn't so tempting that you have no power to resist. Use your self control and just don't feed your kids junk food.

If you must give them an unhealthy diet then at least involve them in sports or encourage them to run around outside and play with their friends. Put them on the treadmill or make them walk the dog and mow the grass.

I ate fast food all my life but I also played soccer and swam and played tag with my friends. We rode bikes and went sledding, etc.

I was thin and of average build despite all of the bad food because I just burned the calories off.

If the kids won't exercise then don't give them the junk food! It's that simple.

Making toys in Happy Meals illegal?

Talk about taking candy from a baby...

So, following this logic, anything we deem BAD for you, shouldn't be marketed. Ok, so one year eggs were the devil, now we learned, they're not so bad. Credit cards can innudate and overwhelm us with ads, but our credit situation in this country has been nationally damaging. There are other examples as well.

It's really simple, you don't like it, don't eat there. I keep kosher. No matter how cute the ads are, we refrain from eating there. I don't blame McDonalds for having such great marketing, that I can't follow my religion. I make a choice. You do as well. Quit looking to blame everyone but yourself. It's not me, it's the really cool ad that made me eat that triple burger every day for a year. Please....

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