Blame it on the Happy Meal

An opinion piece by Andrew Howie

We continue to read stories in the press about obesity. Adults are getting fatter. Kids are getting fatter. Even our domesticated pets are getting fatter. But in typical new age fashion, none of us are prepared to wear the blame ourselves but rather we need to deflect that blame on to others. And in most cases that blame ends up getting passed on to advertisers.

In a recent ruling just handed down, San Francisco has outlawed the selling of toys with kids meals unless they meet certain pre-ordained standards. The law allows for a toy to be given away only to meals that have less than 600 calories, contain fruits and vegetables, and include beverages without ‘excessive fat or sugar’.

They are taking a direct pot shot at the Happy Meal. And in doing so, McDonalds have got their nose out of joint. And with good reason. The Happy Meal is not a new concept. Nor is the toy gift with purchase. This idea was around long before obesity in kids and in adults.

What weren’t around were computer games and the internet. Our streets were safe and kids, on the whole, could roam the streets until dark playing with toy guns and pretend horses. They were fit, they exercised and on the whole, they ate properly. They would walk to school, run around in the play ground and burn off the calories. And the odd Sunday “Maccas” treat was not an issue.

It is not the one Happy Meal a week that is making our kids fat. And it is certainly not the marketing campaigns telling them they can get a toy with their meals. It is the lazy parents who set poor examples by eating rubbish and sitting around all day complaining that brands are evil. They don’t exercise and they certainly don’t know how to say NO to their children.

As we continue down this steep slope of political correctness and witch hunt to blame other people for our problems, we are slowly seeing the moral fiber of our society erode. It is never our fault, but rather that of the marketers who came up with the idea.

And, as a society, we continue to tolerate these naive and flippant comments. And it is not until we all grow up and take account for our actions that this madness will stop.

Someone pass me my Pez. I need a sugar hit.