Study: Fast food marketing up, food still unhealthy
November 8th, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Study: Fast food marketing up, food still unhealthy

Fast food marketing to children is on the rise, according to a new study, and the foods that popular restaurant chains are advertising are extremely unhealthy.

The report, released Monday by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, looked at 12 popular restaurant chains, and out of more than 3,000 kids meal combinations, found only 12 that met the nutritional guidelines for preschool-aged kids.

"The worst meal was at Dairy Queen," said Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives at the Yale center, and the lead study author. "It was a cheeseburger, french fries, a sugar sweetened soft drink and a chocolate Dilly Bar, which totaled 973 calories."

The No. 2 culprit: KFC's popcorn chicken kids meal, served with a biscuit, soda and a side of string cheese – totaling 840 calories.

Of the 12 meals that made the grade, Harris said it was Subway's "Veggie Delite," paired with apple slices and 100-percent juice that took the award for healthiest kids meal at 285 calories. Burger King's macaroni and cheese meal with apple slices and fat-free milk came in at 285 calories as well.

In addition to nutritional value, the study also looked at fast food marketing to kids, and found that the average preschooler is seeing 21 percent more fast food ads than they were in 2003. African American children saw almost 50 percent more ads than their white counterparts.

According to Harris, $4.2 billion was spent on advertising by the fast food industry in 2009 and it is working.  The report finds 40-percent of preschool aged children ask to go to McDonalds on a weekly basis, and 15 percent ask on a daily basis. Also, 84 percent of parents say they've taken their children to eat fast food at least once in the past week.

Harris and her colleagues did find that most of the fast food restaurants had healthy options as well, but they were hard to find.

"More than 80 percent of the time our mystery shoppers went into fast food restaurants, they were automatically given the french fries on the side," she said, "and more than half the time, they were automatically given a cup for soda. So, even though they have the healthy options, they aren't even asking people if they want them."

So what can the restaurants do better?

"One of the things we saw was how little they do inside the restaurants to promote healthy food, and that's where people are making decisions about what they want to buy," Harris said. "The No. 1  thing we're recommending is that they make the healthy option the default choice for kids meals."

The National Restaurant Association, a trade group, says the fast food industry has been committed to change, including offering a bigger range of nutritious options for kids.

"The industry has also led the way in advocating that nutrition information be made available to consumers in chain restaurants,” said Joy Dubost, the association's director of nutrition and healthy living. “A menu labeling provision that the industry strongly supported became law last year and will soon require calories on the menu in 200,000 restaurant locations nationwide."

soundoff (560 Responses)
  1. kate

    one thing we can do is teach parents not to feed their kids garbage all the time. Kids don't go out and buy mcdonalds and BK by themselves do they? No, and who cares if the kids beg for it, kids always beg for stuff they want but shouldn't have. Say no parents, and teach your kids to get outside and feed them home cooked meals. weight loss tips at http://www.diet-myths.com

    November 8, 2010 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SoundSmart

      What's wrong with "junk food" anyway? There's nothing wrong with it – that's it. If one eats for the sake of eating and not sustaining life, there's always a risk of overeating and extra fat layers. "Food must be tasty." Says who? Meals should be adequate. On average, that is. There should be some "nutritional pyramid" bluilt into your average daily rations. If you eat a lot today – skip a meal or two tomorrow. If you work out a lot or go through a spell of unusual physical activity – increase energy consumption, paying attention to proteins. There's a huge "cultural" problem with food in the USA. It has to be addressed in the same way – culturally.

      November 8, 2010 at 04:40 | Report abuse |

      SoundSmart doesn't even sound smart. What's wrong with junk food? It has no nutritional value, is highly processed and loaded with chemicals, and what is usable easily converts to fat. And it's cheap. Unfortunately, low-income families are the biggest targets because fast food is cheaper than the cost of cooking a healthy meal.

      November 8, 2010 at 07:45 | Report abuse |
    • eb0lagirl

      Wow. Sound Smart should change his name to "Really Dumb". One of the biggest problems with eating high-fat, high-cholesterol foods, is that you clog your arteries over time, creating HEART ATTACK and STROKE risks. You build up too many free radicals and then increase your risk of CANCER. It's not always ALL about the calories. Just look at my patients in the ICU who need bypass surgery.

      November 8, 2010 at 08:36 | Report abuse |
    • mk

      @DACOOLE...I dont' think fast food is cheaper than cooking a homemade meal at all. A meal for four at a fast food place is going to cost $15+. There are many meals that you can cook at home for way cheaper. It's not the cost that drives them, it's the convenience and laziness.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:23 | Report abuse |
    • Cole

      SoundSmart is 100% correct. To ridicule what he says only reveals how little one knows about the topic.

      Is a serving of anything bad for you? No. The culprit isn't any food, but overindulgence. If I eat a fast food meal with 1500 calories is that bad? No. I can easily balance out the rest of my meals for the day to account for one fast food stop. Take a look at the extreme end with what some endurance athlete eat. They consume a lot of "junk" food, but it doesn't matter since they actually burn up the calories.

      I'd argue that not only is fast food (and marketing to kids) not a bad thing, but a good opportunity to teach kids about being responsible with their bodies and budgets. If we eat here, what are you going to eat for the rest of the day? What type of activity will you participate in? What have you done to deserve a treat?

      In the end, people like the ones here that attacked SoundSmart are the problem – They refuse to take responsibility for their own bodies and instead look for scapegoats.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:47 | Report abuse |
    • WhoRulesYou

      Another thing we can do, Kate, is tell you and every other person who doesn't know how to mind their own business: BUTT OUT!

      November 8, 2010 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      My husband has colon cancer, and only occasionally ate fast foods. He now gets an upset stomach when he eats foods that probably made him sick: such as corn syrup, processed foods, sausage or hot dogs made with nitrates or nitrites. Don't let your children eat these foods, unless you want them to go through horrible painful diseases when they get older!

      November 8, 2010 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
    • Joe Smash

      How is identifying unhealthy attributes of commonly available and mass marketed foods "scapegoating"? That is called self education. No one said that they can ignore all other factors as long as they don't eat junk food; they simply were stating known facts about the foods in question. In fact, to ignore the gross amounts of chemicals in these foods and their proven link with various health issues, (what you're doing,) is what I would call "denial"

      Of course one junk meal won't kill you, and if you balance out your caloric intake with exercise, it will mitigate the weight gain and augment your overall health. But, it is foolish to ignore the issues associated with HFCS, other processed foods and preservatives, and to assume that managing your calories will erase the damage that they cause.

      That said, I agree with you about educating children on the issues with food intake, exercise, and advertising across all industries.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • Phyllis

      I would love to see the entire 12 that made the grade. Focusing on those that are good would certainly help grandparents like me take my grandchildren to the "healthiest" fast food places. We are all aware of the "terrible" meals. Maybe less press about the bad ones would help us "forget" the bad ones and learn of the good ones. Thanks.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      The problem starts and ends with the parents or care-givers. Many of them are overweight or obese, and don't know enough about diet and exercise to make good choices for themselves or the children in their lives. I am working mother with a 6-year old daughter. I make nutrition and daily exercise a priority for both us-my husband is still a work in progress. I prepare all of our meals using only fresh ingredients and have always involved my daughter in planning our weekly menu as I make my shopping list-that way I already have her buy-in. She looks forward to helping me in the kitchen by snapping beans, peeling garlic or stirring things up and I love getting to spend that time with her. Television and the fast food industry have changed the shape of this country-literally and figuratively-over the last 50 years. Turn off the TV, tell your kids to set the table and fix a delicious meal at home tonight!

      November 8, 2010 at 11:14 | Report abuse |
    • Elena

      I definitely agree that choosing the right foods for your child is completely the responsibility of the parent. And I don't understand the assertion in this report that "even though [restaurants] have the healthy options, they aren't even asking people if they want them." I go into a restaurant and look for healthy options myself, and if I don't immediately see them, I ask for them. And on the extremely rare occasion where I would let my child get fries with her meal as a treat, I really don't want the guy taking my order to be pressing me to choose healthier options for my child – that's none of his business. However, I do agree that we need to do something about school lunches. Parents aren't there to help their child make the better choices, and I know as a kid I would pick the pizza every time; the consequences of unhealthful eating aren't really "real" to the average elementary school kid.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:31 | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      I agree with Kate 100%. Parents need to learn to do some parenting. Children of today lack discipline.

      November 8, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Hmmm, I see that some of you guys start bringing up civil liberties and saying that its the parent's responsibility to not give their kids fast food. If you scroll up and read the article you will see that it is about how advertising of these foods is increasing, I'm all for civil liberties and personal responsibility for people, but children are too stupid to make those kind of reasoned decisions and bombarding them with advertising only increases the problems. Anyone with kids or who was a kid knows that any kid can whine their way to a happy meal if they are determined, even the most diligent parents will give in every now and then. The fact is that fast food is POISON and you are better off eating dog food, or even going into your back yard and eating weeds and squirrels than eating that sh*t. How are you supposed to explain that to a child when they are constantly being told that it is good to eat by advertising? No kid wants to be the weirdo who can't go to McDonalds and have fun. These corporations started more advertising after movies like Super Size Me exposed the truth about them. It would be a lot easier to keep your kid away from fast food if they are not constantly reciting the slogans from commercials used to sell it. As far as I see it its like tobacco or alcohol, grown adults can do whatever they want but kids are too stupid to make informed decisions. It would make it a lot easier for people to keep their kids away from this stuff if they weren't being constantly reinforced to eat it.

      November 8, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • ME

      I get tired of this myth that fast food and junk food are cheaper than eating healthy. What planet do you people live on? Fast food meals are easily $5-8 per person. Individual bottles of soda are well over $1 and many people drink several a day. Chips and artificially flavored junk are all expensive. What a waste! On the other hand, healthy and nutrient dense staples such as beans, peas, oats, lettuce, apples, bananas, brown rice, whole grain pasta potatoes, in-season produce, frozen vegetables etc. are all very cheap if you are willing to make meals from scratch. Generic packaged foods, which are almost always the same as name brand, are also cheap. Fast food is MORE expensive, so there goes that excuse...

      November 8, 2010 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
    • Chad cavanaugh

      i am a kid, and i go to bk and mcydees all day long all by myself. im 6 feet and 17. i weight 180. im i obese? no.

      January 7, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
  2. Lincoln Brigham

    The biggest problem I see with this report is guaging the fast food restaurants against the researcher's nutritional guidelines for pre-schoolers. Who makes these guidelines? The same folks that came up with the failed guidelines that have been thrust upon us for the last 30 years?

    I see they're still shilling the "fat is bad" message. Dietary fat is important for children to thrive. Maybe not the kind of fat found in a Happy Meal is not the best choice, but fat is important for growth nonetheless. Nutritionists are just now discovering that the replacements to fat in the diet – mostly in the form of sugars and simple starches – have turned out to have far worse impact on health.

    November 8, 2010 at 01:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nick

      The medical and nutritional community makes those guidelines from many years of research. Yes, fat is important to growth, but also in the right proportion. Fast food has notoriously high amounts of fat with low nutritional value, and targets evolutionarily designed mechanisms that feed addiction, and furthermore, this report discusses how fast food targets young children to do exactly that.

      I seriously question your education or credibility on the topic with the kind of information you are presenting.

      November 8, 2010 at 03:31 | Report abuse |
    • CutTheCarb

      That's right, fat is replaced by sugar and/or trans fat. And how do these restaurants know what is healthy food? They probably follow the USDA Dietary Guidelines. In view of the fact that there are so many diseases of civilization, these guidelines aren't such a good choice. Better use these, http://bit.ly/9OYe5F

      November 8, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
  3. TracElement

    These meals weren't meant to be eaten every day or even once a week really. They're meant to be a treat. The kids don't want to go eat fast food and order a salad and milk... that's the point of eating out, It's an unhealthy treat. If your kids beg for McD's all the time it's probably because they know it works. Grow a back bone and start telling them no. Eventually they'll learn that no means no. Take them occasionally for a treat and if you have to eat out more due to schedule or something then find them some better alternatives, but stop blaming the restaurants for what you feed your kids.

    November 8, 2010 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ME

      I completely agree. Wish there was a "like" button here...

      November 8, 2010 at 23:00 | Report abuse |
    • tim dugan

      "not meant to be eaten every day" - not so sure. Many folks don't feel they have time to prepare meals and so they rely on restaurants. but for kids all restaurants have the same small set of choices: chicken nuggets or burgers, fries, soft drinks - well, BK & Subway have apple slices and Chick Fillet has fruit cups, but they aren't the default - why can't places just make a rule: meals targetted to children must have a balance of fruit/veggies to go with "meat".

      and why don't they all have whole grain??? it costs nothing...

      November 9, 2010 at 00:47 | Report abuse |
  4. mary

    Is it just me or is the government going too far?
    Parents can either go through McDonalds or cook up a box of frozen slop at home..
    The problem is in "quick" food.. period..
    And until a parent makes or gets the time to cook meals at home. Or there is a good tasting frozen or fast food alternative..
    Kids are going to get fed high calorie, high fat, high salt and sugary foods.
    It's more about cost, and time + taste, when it comes to what kids eat.

    November 8, 2010 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nick

      Mary, I agree that parental responsibility is vitally important when it comes to food choices for their children, but I can't disagree to the notion that the government is going to far; in fact, I would argue that the government has not gone nearly far enough.

      Food in public schools needs vast improvement, high-in-sugar drinks and snacks should be removed, more fruits and vegetables provided, and so forth. Advertisements and incentives targeting children should also be banned (I would encourage you to look up arguments for and against an upcoming law banning fast food kids meals unless they meet certain nutritional requirements).

      November 8, 2010 at 03:37 | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      When I was working and had small children, we would use the drive-through at times, but I did cook the meals at home alot. The fat and calories are bad, bad, bad at all restuarants, not just the fast food places. Check out the book – Not This, But That. It tells what is really in the food we eat at restuarants. Shocking. I know all to well how hard it is to work full time and have to come home and cook, clean, do homework with children and still have time to pay attention to the family. We need to do something about this. It is our children who are suffering.

      November 8, 2010 at 07:33 | Report abuse |
    • Yavanna

      Even if parents are pressed for time they can easily have kid friendly nutritious foods. There are grape tomatoes, crinkle cut carrots w/ low fat ranch, string cheese, yogurt (Greek is best with fresh fruit or crumbled granola), green beans with ham chunks, apple slices with peanut butter to dip them in... any of those are made faster than those processed bag meals.

      November 8, 2010 at 07:43 | Report abuse |
    • NSfromIndiana

      I think you start to hit on a point here. The reason fast food is so popular is because it's fast and cheap. Now-a-days it takes two parents working full time in order to even put fast food on the table. So forget about them being able to find the time to make meals, take their kids to the park, etc. There's much larger problems in this country that need to be fixed. The fast food issue is just a result of those larger problems.

      November 8, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse |
    • Taylor

      In college I had a professor who made us give up all technology for three days. No cell phone, TV, laptop, iPod, or even being in an area with the radio on. The only excusable time was if you needed to use something for school/work (but you weren't allowed to be checking personal email etc.) It was amazing how much time was freed up. I all of a sudden had time to take a walk, work out, cook, clean, organize – and it was amazing. To this day I ignore my cell phone and never touch a computer after work. I understand two working parents are busy (and tired – work sucks) but if you want to make time to cook a meal – it can be done.
      No one is saying cook a three course delicious meal – but grilled chicken breast, rice, and salad can be done pretty effortlessly.

      November 8, 2010 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
  5. Andy

    Maybe if they took the time and made fast food healthy instead of making it the equivalent of carnival food, but no that's too easy.

    – A

    November 8, 2010 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mk

      Probably if they made it healthy, it would be expensive.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
    • Nevermind

      Andy, you have the liberty to open your own fast food restaurant that sells only what you think it should.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
  6. Nick

    I think it's important for everyone to realize just how devastating the epidemic of childhood obesity is. First off, I am a medical student, which by no means makes me an expert, but I would say that I am at least educated enough on the issue to take a stance.

    Childhood obesity has tripled since 1970 to around 17% of children ages 2-19. Among the contributory factors, probably the most important two are increased caloric intake and sedentary lifestyle, the first of which has become increasingly favored as the main cause. While there are many reasons for this, fast-food restaurants targeting children through ads and other promotions (like toys in happy meals) certainly makes matters worse. In addition, while I agree that parental responsibility is key, most parents are not fully educated regarding dietary choices and their consequences on children.

    I like to make parallels of the current obesity epidemic and fast food with tobacco companies. Ads and promotions targeting children are not allowed for tobacco, never mind not even allowed on television. Until we get the same mindset, this epidemic will not cease.

    November 8, 2010 at 03:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kim

      Nick, would you say that going by the timeframe you presented, that obesity has skyrocketed since the Nutritional Food Pyramid was implemented? Humans were not meant to eat so much bread and grain products, and if we started basing our nutrition around nutrient dense foods instead of worrying about calories and "servings", we'd see improved results in our diets.

      November 8, 2010 at 07:36 | Report abuse |
    • ME

      Isn't it funny that fast food existed for decades BEFORE the obesity epidemic began? This indicates that the fast food is not the issue, the over eating of it is.

      November 8, 2010 at 23:01 | Report abuse |
  7. Genius

    If you exercise and drink a lot of water, you won't ever want to eat that kind of crap again.

    November 8, 2010 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff

      Agreed. Before I came to college (I'm a freshman now) I played football but still ate like crap. Fast food all of the time. I ended up getting to 212 pounds. Decided to start eating healthy (500 calorie deficit from my BMR, 1g protein per lb of weight, healthy EFA's, complex carbs) and working out 6 days a week (mostly weight lifting and cardio) and not only do I feel much better, but I get sick less, look better, and have lost 12 pounds already 2 1/2 months into college, but I also nearly gag anytime I hear someone talking about fast food.

      When I decide to cheat(which I did yesterday) I ended up ordering out some wings from my favorite wings place. 10 wings=~500 calories. That was amazing 🙂

      November 8, 2010 at 08:42 | Report abuse |
  8. Jenrose

    We went out to eat at a Shari's the other day, and one of the kids menu breakfast items, for $3.99, involved hash browns, a cheese omelet, toast and bacon, for a whopping 1200 calories. This is for the "under 10" (or under 12, not sure) set, and for most of those kids, they don't need a whole lot more than 1200 calories in a single day. Most of the items on the children's menu were similarly calorific. Adults don't need a single meal to come in at 1200 calories, let alone little kids.

    They wanted to upsell to add a juice-type beverage, too, which would have added another 150 empty sugar calories to a meal already overwhelming in sodium and fat. Many kids would also be adding jam to their toast, for another 50-100 calories.

    The problem is not just fast food places, by any stretch of the imagination. There's a reason we do the vast majority of our meals at home or as packed lunches.

    My kids have always been encouraged to stop eating when they're full, and to watch a kid eat 1/5 of a "child's portion" and be stuffed is sobering, when I know how many children are still encouraged to clean their plates.

    November 8, 2010 at 04:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Louan

      Oddly enough, obesity AND food waste are huge problems in the US. Studies differ but somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of food gets thrown out here. It accounts for 11% of the MSW stream, 2nd behind paper (another problem) I believe. If reasonable and educated people started speaking up about portion sizes at fast food est., restaurants, and diners maybe we can address both problems.
      This whole thread got me thinking about individual, corporate, and gov't responsibilities. Many parents aren't aware of nutrition and caloric needs. Why? Whose responsibility is it to teach them? Should they just know? 200 years ago in small towns and cities across the US people ate what they grew or bought from their local farmers market. They didn't have to know about caloric needs, or fat, sugar and salt limitations. Nobody had to teach them; they just had no choice. Had there been McDonalds at that time with the incessant advertising would they too have succumbed to it? Is this just the result of the free market with marketing everywhere and we're on our own when it comes to who figures it out and who doesn't? Add to that a government that may have had good intentions to start with but is subsidizing a crop that is versatile to the degree that it ends up in a lot of cheap processed unhealthy food. Clearly a lot of us haven't figured it out and so we've become fat and unhealthy, which then leads to the health care crises we have. Are our bad food choices and our ever growing health care crises like dueling banjos or an arms race with no end in sight?

      November 8, 2010 at 08:06 | Report abuse |
  9. Veganman

    My kid has never eaten fast food, and never will.
    It's about respecting your body.
    Eat crap, you become crap (fat too!).
    No thanks. My family is smarter than that.
    Too bad most Americans are not.

    November 8, 2010 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      If I take a few minutes off my life from eating an Arby's Beef and cheddar, so be it. My main deterent is price and value. Making a meal with leftovers at home is much better than a $7 one time fast food meal.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • Cora

      And the second your kid goes off to college, he will stuff his face with fast food, and all the other types of junk food you don't let him/her eat. They will love the stuff (because it tastes good, they are rebelling against you, etc.) and they will have this habit of eating this bad unhealthy stuff for the rest of their lives...

      November 8, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • ME

      Some Americans are smart enough that they don't fear fast food. We are smart enough to realize that a little in moderation mixed into a healthy diet, will never cause a problem. I grew up eating the occasional fast food meal but as a petite adult I have 20% body fat and weigh 105 lbs. I know better than to demonize fast food because I'm smart enough to know it is best saved for a rare treat. It's a shame your ignorance and fear keeps you from getting to live a little.

      November 8, 2010 at 23:08 | Report abuse |
    • Veganman

      Re: ME

      It's not ignorance or fear. I haven't always been Vegan. I used to work for Foodmaker corporate, so I know exactly how fast food is made, and what it's made from.

      It's education. Try it sometime.

      By following your glib logic, Crack is ok, as long as it isn't every day. LOL!!!

      P.S Enjoy your occasional treat. I've found the reward system is best left to dog training.

      November 9, 2010 at 06:02 | Report abuse |


    November 8, 2010 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Baboon

    THE BEST WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT..Lose weight and make money. It is a contest like the biggest loser, only anyone can join. How do you make money, will if you lose the most weight then you can win big bucks on top of winning the battle with food. How about money for a motive? Check this out and do not miss the start date.

    November 8, 2010 at 07:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. red

    i think the 'whole' milk thing is really crazy...they dont serve it or make small single serving size because kids after age 2 dont need it...what they dont need is the crap food. I really wish they would go back to whole milk option at school...i would rather my kid drink milk and not eat the corndog they serve.

    November 8, 2010 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bob

    Clearly the problem is the advertisements. The best thing for parents to do is to eliminate television. Get rid of it all together and the fighting about this will stop. You will save $70 per month on cable and you will save at least $100 per month on food and easily an equal amount on toys. I have no tv and my kids are testing in the top 1000 in the nation. I agree parents buy the junk but you have to realize that parents have a tough time today and need all the help they can get. If corporations are not going to help then we need to shut out the corporations. We don't need the media that is selling all this garbage.

    November 8, 2010 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. lastofsane

    Yet again my own generation has made me sick. I find it absurd that what is supposed to be a hamburger stand is being forced to offer apple slices and skim milk in its kids meals and then to cease its advertising. I find it absurd that Dunkin Donunts advertises everything but DONUTS. As a child in the 1970's, it was fun to have a cardboard crown or a happy meal box with puzzles and games to go with that hamburger and fries. It was equally as fun to burn those calories by being allowed to spend 30 minutes to an hour in the outdoor playground the restaurants usually provided. I've seen the likes of Ronald McDonald all my life just as I have seen the lovable characters who peddled the sugary breakfast cereals with which most of us grew up. I still have my full set of Star Wars collector's glasses which I obtained by begging my mother to take me to a HAMBURGER STAND. But I assure you that I did not collect them all in one week. I was a thin, vigorous, healthy kid who, like most Americans should, had parents who made my nutritional choices for me no matter what the commercials were telling me to do. It seems to me that all that has changed since that time is that kids are now being allowed to watch too much TV and eat too much fast food with too little family time, let alone family meals. As always, this generation once again looks to the Imperial Federal Government to raise our children so the parents don't have to. It's time now to put the blame where it belongs... in the increasing propensity for people rely on government for EVERYTHING. It's time to stop. Stop blaming businesses for trying to make a profit. Stop blaming hamburger stands for selling hamburgers. Stop asking government to raise your kids. If nothing else, at least reduce your kids' TV time so that these evil commercials won't be seen so often.

    November 8, 2010 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Louan

      So should parents who don't get it be on their own? If their parents didn't know and so couldn't teach them should they just be left to get fat, get diabetes and heart disease, which ends up costing society? I don't know the answers but I'm just wondering about the role of individuals, corporations and gov't (please see my reply to Jenrose 4:51).

      I believe a major difference between the then you talk about and now (I'm 45 years old) is more parents work, have less time to prepare meals, and the cost of fast food has stayed relatively cheap compared to the cost of living. Add to that more sedentary lifestyle and it's literally a recipe for disaster.

      Also, in an ever increasing population with disengaged people relying more and more on a global economy and less and less on direct relationships with companies that provide their food and household goods, should there be an entity looking at the big picture? And who should it be? Can you and I do it? Corporations? Government?

      November 8, 2010 at 08:26 | Report abuse |
    • lastofsane

      @Louan: In fact, we do receive a rudimentary education on health and nutrition in school, even if we didn't receive any from our parents. But you touched on a much deeper concern. Obesity is largely an American epidemic even though the same fast food establishments exist the world over. In the US, if both parents are working and have less time to prepare meals, then perhaps more government is not the answer to obesity since the already overwhelming tax burden is a fundamental reason for both parents needing to work. Whether these people work long hours out of necessity or simply out of a desire to keep up with the Jones', it seems clear that proper child-rearing and the family unit have taken a back seat. If government has any role here, it should be to reduce spending and ease the ungodly burden on the American taxpayers so that they might return home more often and properly raise their children. It is certainly not a legitimate role of government to assume that we're all idiots and enforce upon us a nanny-state while attacking a business which provides millions of jobs.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • Louan

      Lastofsane... I think you're right in the respect that more government is not the answer... in fact less government in this area would be great: stopping the subsidy of corn (while we're at it, oil too), which would make fast food (and all overly processed food) more expensive and give healthier food a chance. Also, keep in mind, there is a long way between a nanny state and every man for himself. It's the gray area that most of us reasonable and sane people try to live in, right?

      It's interesting that you talk about comparing the US with other countries. We do have a higher obesity rate. While we're comparing though, compared to most other developed nations, we have a lower tax rate overall (income, sales or VAT as is done in places in Europe, property). So I don't think a higher tax burden is the reason.

      I think you're onto something with the keeping up with the Jones' thing. "The Story of Stuff" does a pretty good job of explaining the consumer demand cycle (there is stuff in SOS I don't agree with) and why we end up in the cycle of working so much. Also, manufactured demand is a brilliant but insipid marketing strategy - bottled water, antibacterial soap and most cleaning products, fast food - that uses either fear or promises of a better/easier/sexier/more fun life.

      The problems are complicated and the answers are not easy. There's a guy in my office who illustrates the worst of the worst: he is about 400 lbs and prides himself on paying as little taxes as possible. Meanwhile, he eats lots of fast food (corn and oil subsidies), uses the library, drives on public roads, started riding a bike on public trails, and is a veteran and says we should support our troops!! Yeah, I do... it's called taxes, buddy.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
  15. Rob

    The idea that fast food chains are going to reform their marketing perspective to be pro-health is a bit naive, I think. They make money off of people coming back to their store to get what they want. Humans are programmed to want sugar, fat, and salt, so that's what the fat food producers provide. They simply react to consumer demand. Trying to control a business like that will likely never work coming from the top (regulations). The way to steer that ship is to get customers to demand different foods. The choices people make need to be changed, not the businesses. There needs to be consumer education aimed specifically at those who frequent fast food restaurants and most especially children in that group. They need to understand, probably in somewhat graphic detail, exactly what the food they are eating will do to their bodies. No hyperbole or scare tactics. Just the truth about the damage they are doing to themselves. It should be a lot like how anti-smoking campaigns describe in detail what smoking does to a lung over time. It allows the user to see the effects of their self-abusive behavior on a longer time-scale than we usually consider. Education will make the difference. When consumer demands change, the businesses will change. Forcing people to go one way will never work in the country. You have to convince them. Rational, effective nutrition for fat loss and long-term health: http://www.NutritionPerfected.com/np-blog.html

    November 8, 2010 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Maddy

    Dittos to Bob! Parenting is never easy but one thing to keep in mind is that "we will always get the children we deserve"! If the parents due not exert due diligence, all of society will reap the harvest. The garden is thriving and being fertilized daily. Taking the toy out of the happy meal is not the answer. Just say "no" is more in line with dealing with this problem. Parents being parents. Because certain foods are being served at school or in eating establishments does not mean you should allow you kids to eat them. Moderation goes a long way as well. Good habits start in the home.

    November 8, 2010 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Louan

      This whole thread got me thinking about individual, corporate, and gov't responsibilities. Many parents aren't aware of nutrition and caloric needs. Why? Whose responsibility is it to teach them? Should they just know? 200 years ago in small towns and cities across the US people ate what they grew or bought from their local farmers market. They didn't have to know about caloric needs, or fat, sugar and salt limitations. Nobody had to teach them; they just had no choice. Had there been McDonalds at that time with the incessant advertising would they too have succumbed to it?

      Is this just the result of the free market with marketing everywhere and we're on our own when it comes to who figures it out and who doesn't? Add to that a government that may have had good intentions to start with but is subsidizing a crop that is versatile to the degree that it ends up in a lot of cheap processed unhealthy food. Clearly a lot of us haven't figured it out and so we've become fat and unhealthy, which then leads to the health care crises we have. Are our bad food choices and our ever growing health care crises like dueling banjos or an arms race with no end in sight?

      November 8, 2010 at 08:46 | Report abuse |
  17. Ralph

    So a company can market unhealthy food to kids that will lead to obesity, as well as many other problems to their health. But I can not smoke marijuana- even though it is my body and science has proven there are no adverse affects.

    November 8, 2010 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karen

      Science has not proven that. Smoking pot leads to sexual problems in men, and long term effects include memory loss. While I agree, pot really isn't that bad, let's not pretend it's 100% healthy.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
    • Veganman

      Sorry Ralph. I support MMJ, but if you inhale smoke of any kind, you're damaging your lungs. Vaporizers are less irritating, but there is still something foreign in your lungs.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
  18. Bob

    We advertise junk food and alcohol to kids.. Every other commercial on TV is a drug commercial.. Basically the Media is telling kids that poor diet and medication is the American way!

    November 8, 2010 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Louan

      We've always loved a good arms race in this country!!

      November 8, 2010 at 08:28 | Report abuse |
  19. eb0lagirl

    Wow. Sound Smart should change his name to "Really Dumb". One of the biggest problems with eating high-fat, high-cholesterol foods, is that you clog your arteries over time, creating HEART ATTACK and STROKE risks. You build up too many free radicals and then increase your risk of CANCER. It's not always ALL about the calories. Just look at my patients in the ICU who need bypass surgery.

    November 8, 2010 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ME

      If you are so smart, then you should know that it takes a lifetime of regularly eating high fat foods on a daily basis to create heart disease. It doesn't pop up overnight if you eat a single fast food meal every once in a while.

      November 8, 2010 at 23:12 | Report abuse |
  20. nflsuperfan

    Some people are just uneducated and don't know how to feed themselves or their families. We cannot use government to continue to ensure these people make the right decisions. Natural Selection.

    November 8, 2010 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chris

      Actually when they are uneducated and unintelligent it is the responsibility of the government to try and get them on track. What costs more — prevention or cure?

      November 8, 2010 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
    • Anachronism

      Chris, your argument assumes that if we don't care enough to prevent their problems, we should suddenly will care enough to cure them. And doing neither is cheaper than doing either.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
    • Louan

      Anachronism... Wow, I hope you have health insurance that covers a heart IMPLANT!!!

      November 8, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
  21. chris

    I say let 'em get as fat as they want. The rest of us are going to need somebody to eat when the apocalypse finally dawns.

    November 8, 2010 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. lastofsane

    Most of us know that fast food is bad for our health. If you look around, you might notice that it is typically obese parents who have obese children. Even most of them know that fast food is not good for their health. But I think they are simply more careless than gullible. Everyone seems to be missing the point of the ads being targeted toward children. A child can only eat fast food when a parent allows it. So the idea of the toys and the ads is not to lure your kids away from a nutritious, home-cooked meal, rater it is to lure you and your kids away from Burger King and into McDonald's (or vice-versa) on those occasions when fast food might be the choice for dinner. People will continue to eat fast food with or without the existence of the commercials, but which fast food is chosen over another is why they need to advertise. If Visa or MasterCard stopped advertising tomorrow, would people suddenly stop using credit cards, or would they bring more business to American Express? This entire issue is just so stupid. If the kids don't get unhealthy food at the hamburger stand, they'll get deep-fried chicken fingers and fries at the local Applebee's or Chili's. Parents simply need to teach their children to eat healthy foods as they grow. Asking the government to force the hand of private business is not a remedy for careless parenting. As far as advertising is concerned, I'm must more outraged about being forced by the government to purchase auto insurance for which a large portion of my premium goes toward the gigantic advertising expense of the company which provides it.

    November 8, 2010 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. maine liberal

    if a chain wants to serve up crap let them. I have a choice to go else where

    November 8, 2010 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mk

    I just find it hard to believe that people don't know how or have the knowledge to eat right. The information is EVERYWHERE. You learn about the food pyramid in 4th grade. Nutritional information is printed on every package. It seems like it's hard NOT to know.

    November 8, 2010 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gala1212

      Didn't you notice there is no agreement about what is healthy almond even nutritional experts? Government food pyramid is not considered to be a healthy any more(I agree).

      November 8, 2010 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
  25. Rob

    The government has a right to regulate the school food, but they should not dictate what we buy at restaurants. Thats the definition of going too far. My son happens to enjoy the chicken and apples in a McD's meal – doesn't eat the fries. It might not be the best, but its not the worst when I am in a hurry. There is no way that the government should be able to stop my from having that option.

    November 8, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. ZC

    I know it's said all the time but I just don't get it. It's not overly expensive to eat healthy. Let's take a family of 4. They go to McDonalds, even if they stick to the dollar menu they're going to each probably buy 3 items so that's 12 dollars for a meal. Alright, what type of meal can we make with 12 dollars?

    1 Head of lettuce – $1
    1lb tomatoes – $1.50
    1 Cucumber – $1 (on the high side, i regularly see them 2 or 3 for a buck)
    1/2 bottle of dressing – $1
    Look at that, side salads for all for $4.50

    4 boneless skinless chicken breasts – $5
    head of broccoli – $1.50
    1.5-2lb of potatoes – $1

    Look, a pretty decent meal for 12 bucks. No only that I'm betting that it's, weight-wise, more food but still much less calories. Add another buck if you want to drink some skim milk with that instead of water.

    November 8, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mulholland

      You own a grocery store? Where the heck do you see prices like that? A few are accurate but most or pretty conservative. You're right though, overall it is cheaper to eat at home but I wouldnt' say cheaper to eat healthy. You can eat unhealthy at home for much cheaper than you can eat healthy at home so really you're making the case for not eating out more so than eating healthy.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • ZC

      Might just be an Ohio thing but those are the typical prices for conventional produce at the major grocery stores and the big box stores like walmart.

      November 8, 2010 at 10:02 | Report abuse |
    • Gala1212

      Your choose does not look healthy for me. Better than fast food, of course. There are no healthy fats there, diffidently not in any store bought dressing. Skinless chicken is just ridiculous choice. You should educate yourself better on nutrition , low fat diet is not considered to be healthy any more.

      November 8, 2010 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • ME

      ZC, I've lived in Los Angeles, Ohio and Michigan, plus I've traveled and spent time all over the U.S. Those are indeed rather standard prices. And you are right, it is far, far cheaper to eat healthy food. Anyone who thinks fast food is cheaper clearly hasn't been comparing prices lately. I've seen my fast food loving friends buy a meal for $8, then grab a $1.50 soda at the gas station while my healthy meal that I make at home and drink with water costs me maybe $3-4. The basic staples of a healthy diet are very inexpensive and easy to find in bulk- peas, beans, brown rice, oats, apples, bananas, in-season produce, potatoes, etc.

      November 8, 2010 at 23:19 | Report abuse |
  27. Mulholland

    I am obese. I am doing something about it but it starts with putting blame where blame is due. On me. It is my fault and not a fast food industries. I made the decision to stop eating fast food, to stop eating processed food and to stop drinking soft drinks. That doesn't mean I never eat a hamburger again but it does mean that I don't go through the fast food line daily and get a burger coke and fries. I didn't need the fast food industry or the gov't to protect me from this stuff, I simply needed to make a personal decision. Childhood obesity is so bad because adult obesity is just as bad if not worse. You have to stop the problem at it's source. Kids don't make food decisions, parents do. When parents don't eat healthy neither will kids. It is not the food industries fault, they are advertising what sells. Other options are there but no one wants to buy them. They tried advertising the healthy stuff. I remember it because I worked in the corporate office for a company who owned and operated several fast food restaurants. We pushed the healthy options and no one wanted them. So guess what, the push ended. Back to what people are buying. Solving this problem means educating ADULTS not children. I had no idea how dangerous obesity was until I researched it. Sure you hear things but the stuff you hear doesn't come close to illustrating the real danger. The real danger is what people need to be educated on. Once someone grasps how dangerous it is they'll be scared straight. Parents are to blame, not companies or governments and certainly not the kids. We need to all stop worrying about childhood obesity and focus on the ones who are teaching kids the eating habits that are making them obese. My wife is pregnant and I can tell you that my child will not be obese because I intend to instill healthy eating habits and I won't wait for an organization of any kind to do it for me.

    November 8, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mk

      Well put...

      November 8, 2010 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
    • Veganman

      Thank you for posting. Education is the key.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
    • Deemer

      Excellent post Mulholland. It comes back to the responsibility of the parents. If parents would stop letting there kids run the household this wouldnt be a problem. When did so many parents become scared of saying NO and standing their ground? From a business standpoint, why wouldnt a business target weak parents? Its smart business. No one is going to McDonalds to get anything healthy! With all the hype about how bad these restaurant chains are, the fact is that everytime you go to a McDonalds its packed! Sure its convenient, but there is a price to pay to any convenience. If people are so worried about the adverstising, then stop using your TV as a babysitter, and spend some quality time with your kid. Heck, heres a thought, open a book! I highly doubt there are too many kids books out there that adverstise a Happy Meal! Maybe McDonalds should start buying advertising rights to books!

      November 8, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
  28. David M.

    I don't know how much money Yale spent on this study, but it does not tell us anything we don't already know. None of these fast food places market themselves as 'healthy'. We all know that a cheeseburger and fries is loaded with calories. We all know that if you eat there every day, you're going to get FAT. That's why we rarely take our kids to any of those places.

    However, last week we stopped to get them a chicken nugget happy meal, and were charged extra for getting milk instead of a soft drink. So the problem I have with mickey d's is not their calorie count, but the fact that they charge you extra to get a healthy drink (milk) rather than a sugar drink. Guess where we won't be eating anymore!

    November 8, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply

      but that's every where. you go to the store and buy junk cheaper than you can buy healthier stuff.

      November 8, 2010 at 10:46 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      I don't know where you got your Happy Meal, but I have never been charged extra for requesting milk instead of a soft drink. The price has always been the same.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:33 | Report abuse |
  29. Jorge

    Lazy Americans who don't like to cook right or know how end up making the McPigslop chains richer and talking out of one side of their face in a wheelchair.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Random Anonymous Blackmail

    Fast Food is still unhealthy, who'da thunk? Hey geniuses how is that cure for cancer coming?

    November 8, 2010 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply

    wow when did people stop taking responibility for their actions?

    November 8, 2010 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Gabriella

    I can't believe all these people defending eating fast food on a daily basis. Its not my place to tell anyone how to live and what to put into your bodies, but fast food is like poison- it has so much processed chemicals in it, not even to start on the calories. there is no way i am taking my kid to burger king type places more than a few times a year. you do what you want

    November 8, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Bobby

    Why not let em eat junk food every day, 3 times a day. We got free lifetime healthcare coming so they will be covered when they get heart disease and diabetes. It is not them or there parents responsibility, it is those evil fast food chains. Since personal responsibility is so politically incorrect, let's just remove it from existence. The government, your neighbor, the maple trees, they are all responsible for anything bad that happens. The once proud United States of America. May God bless as she sinks.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Veganman

      Nothing is ever free.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
  34. Anthony

    The calorie count mentioned for the Burger King Mac and Cheese kids meal is not right. According to Burger Kings own website that meal is 430 calories using the exact same items that she showed on air. Even substituting apple juice for either chocolate milk or regular milk puts the meal at 310 calories. CNNneeds to get the facts straight before going on air or posting them on here.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Janet

    The drug makers and diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!! SEE HERE http://spirithappy.wordpress.com

    Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis NOT SODA!

    The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank!

    The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

    A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story

    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    November 8, 2010 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      As a board certified internal medicine physician, I would recommend that you not promote your junk science and misinformation about conspiracy theories and directing people to invalid sources of reactionary, delusional misinformation. You seem to discount the abundant research that great people in medicine are devoting their professional lives to in a race to cure diabetes. Conspiracy theorists and voodoo diet snake charmers only disctract from that mission.

      November 8, 2010 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      Hey Doc, if we followed your advice there wouldn't be anybody posting on these forums!

      BTW, many people say they're Dr's on forums like this, but your grasp of english & grammer lead me to believe you actually are a Dr. Good thing these forums aren't hand written..lol

      November 8, 2010 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
  36. Missy Baird

    Be truthful with you kids, tell them what this garbage is. I explained to my 6 year old daughter how she is being tricked into wanting this very unhealthy food by adding a toy. I must say she was a bit angry and is very easily swayed away from the temptation now.

    November 8, 2010 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Greg

    This shouldn't really be surprising. Luckily, there are several free health and nutrition resources available that can help guide us on our dietary decisions. Holosfitness.com is a free online fitness tool with a wide array of health, fitness, and nutrition-related information. The site offers nutritious recipes, step-by-step instruction on workouts, and blogs posted by fitness professionals.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Ah the ignorant upper and middle class. Citing a website as a "free" source of information.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
  38. Lauren Bridge

    Uhh, not all calories are created equal. Yes, overeating leads to obesity; however, one can have health issues due to a poor diet. You can eat a Whopper, large fries, and a soda and go work it off, but one can still acquire clogged arteries from this type of diet. Where are the vitamins in said meal? Where's the overall nutritional value? All I invision are empty carbohydrates and protein dripping with saturated fat... Oh, and the occassional slice of tomato and piece of lettuce *definitely* makes the greasy hamburger a more healthy choice.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. ann

    One thing that must be taken into consideration is that most of the pull to eat bad foods comes from other kids, not necessarily tv. Yes ads can influence, but it only takes a few kids at school saying, "nobody eats that" and you end up with kids only wanting chicken nuggets, pizza, fries, and mac and cheese with chocolate milk. Believe me, my niece would eat a lot of things until she started school and then Boop suddenly her interest was boiled down to that list I mentioned previously. She had seen all the ads at home but it was the peer pressure that finished the job. Instead of targeting the ads, it should be looked into how to combat this peer pressure environment. Not sure exactly what that might entail. But definitely the ads aren't the biggest issue.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. nflsuperfan

    Alcohol consumption is bad for you, if consumed in excess. The government should stop the sale of alcohol because it needs to protect the morons of our society who don't know how to consume it in moderation....right?

    November 8, 2010 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Tina


    November 8, 2010 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IceT

      I completely agree with you. Responsible parenting is sorely lacking in todays society and there are many factors that affect this. We parents have to recognize that we too are conditioned by peer pressure and that it's not just the fast food companies doing it. Tina, now that I've agreed with you could you stop yelling?!

      November 8, 2010 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
  42. Get out of my CHEESEBURGER!!!

    It's a FAST FOOD joint!!! You DON'T go there to eat healthy! If you want to eat healthy, go somewhere that sells healthy stuff or better yet go to the grocery store and make your own healthy meal. Stop trying to force your healthy choices down out throats! You're taking up valuable french frie space!

    November 8, 2010 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Mike

    Can anyone on here with obese children please explain to me the mindset you have when you give your kids unhealthy food? Are you really too poor to afford a salad? I want the parents of obese children to chime in. I would gladly support some form of welfare, where you can only purchase healthy food, if this is the case. If youre just lazy, please stop ruining your kids lives.

    November 8, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Louan

      My husband the other day at a Burger King (his weekly weakness to get diet cola) observed someone putting soda in a sippy cup for a toddler!! He couldn't believe it and felt like saying something. What do you say? Meanwhile a few days later someone told a friend of ours who is vegetarian raising vegetarian kids (very well rounded healthy eaters) that feeding kids a vegetarian diet is child abuse.

      November 8, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
  44. Kathy

    They are desperate to sell since people are waking up to the fact that this is NOT REAL FOOD AND UNHEALTHY!
    Fast Food Nation & Food Inc. watch it people. be smart.

    November 8, 2010 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George

      absolutely..everyone must watch food inc. i guarantee that people will start buying natural and organic meats and produce after watching the movie of our country and how mass production is killing this country

      November 9, 2010 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
  45. Responsible Parenting

    At 10 I knew how to make a pot of coffee & how my parents drank it. By the time I was 13 I already knew how to cook. I took pride in the fact I was allowed to cook my own breakfast & would get requests to make banana bread, french toast or eggs for them. Our parents would leave instructions on how to do everything to the letter, and dinner was ready for the family of 10 when we got home. Salads, pastas, pork chops, roast chicken, stir frys – not one meal was fast food unless it was a special occasion, my parents working later, or we had sleepovers. Then it was pizza or some other take out. Dinner was not mulitple choice – if you didn't eat it, you didn't eat ANYTHING else that night. End of story.

    Parents aren't letting their kids do ANYTHING for themselves. I can't tell you how strange I think it is that my neighbors & their kids seem shocked I cook almost every single night – plus cookies, desserts or new dishes. I'm no top chef – but I know I can whip up a dinner with less than 5 ingredients in less than a half hour – and it'll be better than any takeout. I've been cooking for decades – let the kids do it! Teach them – they'll love it. Get them involved. I have beloved recipes I've learned from childhood that are as delicious today as when I remembered my mother & grandmother made them.

    We had to make our own breakfast & lunch as kids – and if we didn't, then we did without. There was no way my parents would spend on a drive through or take out place – we had food at home & that was the end. Because they SAID so. Because they were the parents. Doesn't anyone parent anymore? What is so wrong with telling your kids they can't have fast food & sticking to it?

    November 8, 2010 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      You're right but coming from the wrong angle. Its the parents that enjoy the ease of fast food. They don't want to "say no."

      November 8, 2010 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
  46. checkdent

    Fast food isn't that bad and wrong. What's wrong is overeating. Overeat the most healthiest food there is and see what happens, drink too much water and you'll get sick. Kids should have proper diets but the sole responsibility is to the parents. They need to educate themselves so they can provide healthy diet solution to their children.


    November 8, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. CR

    20 years ago, every other commercial during Saturday cartoons were calling the Easter bunny and Santa Clause (long distance rates do apply). As a family I can count on 1 hand the number of times that we ate fast food before my teens. I can remember the circumstances and I also remember it was special. It is our fault as parents that our children have no idea what it is like to eat fast food only once a year. I only began eating fast food on a regular basis when I got my first job at McDonalds and could drive myself. Things have definately changed, but it is a concious decision that the parents must make hands down.

    November 8, 2010 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Jimmy

    Whenever I was still living at home with my parents 10+ years ago, we always ate together at the dinner table and talked to one another. My siblings and I always considered it a real treat when we could all go out together at get a big mac meal at McDonald's or a #1 at Wendy's. Our trips to the fast food joint only occurred about twice per month. The only other times we got fast food is when we were coming home from an evening school function and there was just not time to make dinner. The kids today have a different situation to deal with. Parents need to get better educated on the type of food they give their kids. I hate to say it to a lot of parents but you're actually feeding your kids a slow and dying death by feeding them processed foods and junk. You are in no way doing a service to your kids. It's time to stop craving low quality foods for the sake of large portion sizes and more money. It's time to invest more into quality foods. Yes, it costs more, but not so much more than eating out everyday!

    November 8, 2010 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sam in TX

    How about we work on cutting down the number of fast food ads targeted towards children, first? Less ads mean less kids begging for these high-calorie, high-fat meals, means less parents caving in to incessant demands, means one step forward in the fight against the national obesity epidemic.

    It's the ads - not the food (though that certainly isn't helping anything) - that's the real problem here.

    November 8, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. MinnMom

    It isn't a simple calorie in-calorie out. It is whether or not your child feels full and knows how to feel full. I don't push my child to eat, there is always fresh fruit for him and he gets veggies with every meal except breakfast. He has never been to McD but I don't have him on a low fat diet. He just doesn't overeat because I make sure he understands how to listen to his body (I wish I were as good at it.) Even when faced with a big piece of cake, he eats just enough to satisfy his sweet tooth. The problem about fast food is that it is fast - and the problem is that we haven't taken the time to sit and enjoy our meals.
    My son recently had a friend bring McD's to a playdate and he wouldn't touch it.

    November 8, 2010 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.