Happy meals and my big brother

There is quite a bit to be said about yesterday’s election day…most of it I will keep to myself, at least for now. But there is one outcome that we need to talk about: San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted to disallow the sale of toys with any complete meal boasting 600 calories or more.

Now, here’s the deal, folks-I’m as anti-childhood obesity as the next guy, but banning happy meals is a band-aid on this epidemic, and an ill-fitting off brand band-aid at that. (Let me be clear on this: I do realize that some, if not MOST obesity is the result of deep emotional wounds, it is because of this that I believe the ban on Happy Meals is a mere band-aid on a deeper issue). But for the rest of us who can’t fit into our old jeans anymore and are raising our kids to eat whatever they want, it’s simply time for us to STOP PLAYING THE VICTIM! My husband loves fast food and since marrying him, I’ve probably consumed more fast food than I did in the 27 years before I met him.  Have I become obese? No. I have stopped eating french fries, I get the healthier menu items, I get smaller portions (often in form of kids’ meals). Could I supersize all my meals? Yes, yes I could, but I don’t. And usually I just let him and his “I’m a little man” self go eat fast food alone.  It is not the fault of McDonald’s, Chick Fil A, Taco Bell, that people are obese.

Here’s my question: whatever happened to personal responsibility? Whatever happened to just NOT taking our kids to McDonald’s? Or letting them have an occasional Happy Meal on their birthday? Whatever happened to budgeting our money in such a way that we can AFFORD healthier foods at home? Or even learning to grow our own healthy foods in the back yard? Whatever happened to ordering our busy lives so we have time for exercise? What ever happened to eating until we are full? Why do we think that putting leftovers in the fridge is such a bad thing?

I don’t see cities banning cable tv or putting an age limit on operating gaming systems-both of which I believe play a large part in childhood obesity. Why? Because people would lose their minds! But I tell you what-I don’t believe we are far from it, because for some reason we believe that Big Brother can hop in and fix everything. He can fix poverty, he can fix the mortgage crisis, he can fix health care, and now he can fix childhood obesity. No, the government cannot fix these things and in the last 100+ years of trying, we have only ended up in a deeper hole.  

We have abandoned the idea that we play any role at all in our own personal well-being. Furthermore, as parents we’ve handed over child rearing  to teachers, church workers, and politicians. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would be heartbroken by what their children and grandchildren have become, and I am too.

The solution lies with us, dear friends, not our Big Brother.

 P.S. I enjoy Chick Fil A kid’s meals on a regular basis and if they take my toys away, I’m gonna be TICKED!

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PPS. Please do not read this as a knock on overweight people-this blog is a knock on our foolishness in expecting the government to solve our problem and also a knock on the government being so pious as to think they can solve every problem.


7 thoughts on “Happy meals and my big brother

  1. michelle says:

    san francisco bans everything. we can’t have plastic shopping bags, plastic take out containers, not allowed to sell cigarettes in anything other than a liquor store, can’t smoke anywhere-not even on the streets, and it goes on and on. for being such a laid back, care free city we have a lot of rules 🙂 (but we were about to legalize marijuana?!) i agree about childhood obesity being an easy to solve, at homeproblem. i once had a ped come into my store and tell me that his number one annoyance as a dr was childhood obesity because it was so completely controllable. and i also agree, i think tv and video games are FAR FAR worse than an occasional hamburger.

  2. Anna B. says:

    Totally agree! I used to get blamed all the time as a youth minister by parents, for their kids being bad, um-you can fix that at home mama. Also, all those things you mentioned that San Fran bands, I don’t do any of them anyway, so it’s not like I disagree with the notions, but are we a free country or not? I feel like the faster we take a way little rights, the faster the big ones like freedom of speech and religion will be taken away as well. I think it just freaks me out that our kids won’t grow up enjoying the America we enjoyed.

  3. Ryan G. says:


    Am in general agreement with you as far as accountability/personal responsibility goes. However, my thinking has changed somewhat after seeing some of the research on pleasure/reward circuitry in the brain. There’s a lot more going on there than previously thought, and my ability to boil it down to saying “quit eating and go exercise” is not as clear cut as it once was. While it is true that calories in should be less than calories out to lose weight, the simple act of eating less is likely not so simple for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. There’re a lot of variables that go into the science of obesity. And then there’s the science of marketing to deal with on top of that as well. Summation: There are a vast amount of people out there who are (likely) extremely vulnerable to one or more of the factors that contribute to obesity in our modern society.

    The difficulty lies in how to combat this problem. The medical field has determined that diet and exercise are not effective treatments for obesity. (!!) How can this be, you ask? Research has shown that diet and exercise are failures for long term weight loss. This defies common sense. You and I both know that anyone who TRULY eats a specified caloric range and exercises will lose weight. The problem is that noone actually stays on the wagon, making a legitimate treatment option ineffective.

    Since the populace keeps eating and won’t exercise, we’ve reached the point where the people in charge are willing to try anything to curb the obesity epidemic, and that now includes legislation, apparently. Is this an answer? Probably not.

    One thing we can be sure of, though, is that those Happy Meals are gonna have 1 calorie under the toy-limit so that sales don’t fall off.

  4. Anna B. says:

    Well said, Ryan. You are totally right, on this, that’s why I say it’s a band-aid. This issues run so much deeper than simply “being fat.” My problem with this ruling is that we keep trying to regulate things that cannot realistically be regulated with laws. I’d be interested to see if the obesity rate in San Fran actually drops be/c of this measure. (I don’t even like McD’s!) I’d also MUCH rather see the FDA change regs on school lunches before we tackle the fast food industry (though that won’t do much either, I’m afraid until we tackle deeper issues). Did you watch Jaime Oliver’s food revolution last spring? Pretty interesting insight into our culture and food!

  5. Sarah! says:

    I would be ticked if they took the Chick-fil-a toy away, too! That means no free dessert! That would “udderly” suck. tehe.

  6. Mafruw Lei says:

    COME ON!!!!! What is this Red China? The USSR? Since when do the Feds and The Man know better than me? I’m more educated and less Liberal than either, so I can make my own decisions, thanks! When I visit SF I’m going to have to buy a happy meal in Oakland, and drive to enjoy it in a McDonalds in SF, just to stick it to them. While I’m at it, I’m going to feed my child Lard so I won’t just observe the problem, I can BE the problem. Heck, I’m going to own a McDonalds one day.

  7. Martha. says:

    Agreed! Our country is great at asking the gov tondo for them what they ought to do for themselves (or fix the problem after the fact) and the gov is great and getting more and more involved each time!

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