The fast food industry has recently taken an interest in the health of children across the nation. “Fast food”has a grown to be synonymic with the word “unhealthy,”but as of late various chains have begun to implement changes in the children’s menus including the drop of soft drinks as an option and the addition of fruit as a side. While these options are indeed healthier than the previous options, in the attempt to create a so-called healthy meal for children, some feel that the industry may be overstepping the parent’s decision as to what is best for their child. Some parents claim that the meals that they eat are considered treats, and the complete removal of a soda option for their child’s meal is taking away the parent’s authoritative decision. But this small change could be a step towards the improvement of children’s health.
Recent changes include Burger King no longer offering a soft drink with the meal, only milk or juice, and the side is now apple fries. McDonald’s and Wendy’s have also dropped the soft drinks, and McDonald’s includes the option of oranges as a Happy Meal side. Other items are being added to adult menus as well, but the most noticeable additions and removals are in the kid’s meals.
Health is a habit that begins at a young age, and these changes could be a step in the positive direction for a change in the health of America’s young generation, which one third of is obese according to the CDC. When children begin to receive milk or water with their meals, they no longer associate refined sugar sodas with eating out, and that switch alone will make a dent in the unreal consumption of refined sugar by children. The same principles apply to the new fruit option. The switch from a deep fried, starchy side of French fries to a crisp and more nutritious side of apples will become the accepted norm for a side in the minds of children.
While the changes being are made are not drastic, one can hope that they will amount to a step in the right direction to change the health of America’s youth. The next major barrier will be persuading parents and children that choosing the new “healthy”option is really the option that they should be choosing. From the view of an optimistic, change to the menus of the most frequented restaurants across the nation is the right place to start. From a progressive point of view, the next step should be the drop of high sugar juices and flavored milks and the addition of nutrient dense vegetables as an option.
Jean Donaldson is a sophomore biology major. This column reflects the views of the writer only. Jean can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.