Dealing with the Lure of Fast Food and Junk Food Marketing

“Are we overweight because we aren’t trying hard enough, or have the food and marketing industries somehow eroded our ability to say no”, asks Stone Phillips in tonight’s Dateline story.

He talked about a lawsuit between two obese Bronx girls and McDonalds where the girls blame the fast food establishment for their girth. He discussed the possibility of food addictions being as strong as cocaine in some people. He also points out that while fast food restaurants are claiming they have no responsibility in America’s obesity, that they have changed their foods and recipes to be more waist-friendly.

As an overweight American, this is horrifying to me. It began to believe that no matter how hard I fight the lure of the fast food giants that the decks are stacked against me. But I also know that in the end, no one is putting food into my mouth y holding a gun up to my head.

But what about our children? Ronald McDonald is running and exercising in the latest commercials. Chicken McNuggets have gone on a diet, and General Foods has stopped marketing directly to children. However, children have become more and more skilled at nagging parents into buying the unhealthiest foods humanly possible. Cartoons are to blame… sort of. Instead of marketing directly to children, General Mills and friends have recruited your kids favorite cartoon characters to represent their least healthy food choices in the same way Michael Jordan represents Nikes. One particular test displayed on this news story demonstrates that a kid would just as soon eat a rock with a sponge bob sticker than a banana sans cartoon character.

Between the Golden Arches calling our names as we drive by, and Sponge Bob whispering to our kids as we walk down the aisle, how can we expect to fight this battle of the bulge? Well, our options are few, but we do have some. Here are the tactics I am using to trim the waistline of my family and myself.

1. Grocery shop alone: If the kids are not with you when you purchase groceries, then the lure set to get them pulling on your shirt and begging cannot happen.

2. Stop, drop, and leave: When I cannot avoid shopping with my kids, they know that when they start badgering for unhealthy treats, I stop shopping on the spot and buy whatever is in the cart. When we walk past the goodies aisles, I usually only have fruit and vegetables. They know to stay silent. Who knows I might pick up a box of reduced fat Oreos on my way out.

3. Do not leave home hungry: I have noticed that the kids and I are only tempted to have McDonald’s for lunch if we are hungry. I always make sure we have eaten something before we leave the house, and if we will be gone for hours, then we bring snacks with us.

4. Kiddie Size it: When we cannot fight the urge for McDonald’s any longer, I order kids meals for everyone. Most kids the age of mine are eating Big Macs, but my kids still get the cheeseburger or the McNuggetts meal. My husband and I get the kids meal too. Sometimes the toys are cool.

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