130328_FoodPoliceBadge picThe Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) makes no bones about its goals: It wants to scare you into asking the government to ban the foods you love. Why else would it hyperbolically call fettuccine alfredo a “heart attack on a plate” and petition the Food and Drug Administration to institute Prohibition on every regular soft drink?

Today, they’re asking very nicely, this time that restaurants remove certain foods and soft drinks “for the children.” USA Today reports that CSPI is concerned that kids’ meals in many restaurants contain calories, and demands that they be removed from menus.

But there’s more to the story than CSPI’s report acknowledges, and USA Today reports it. Many of the restaurant chains CSPI flags as offering food high in calories on their kids’ meal menus also offer lower-calorie options for parents to choose from. Consider that the chains that offer these options, from CSPI’s naughty list:

  • Jr. cheeseburger and French fries (beverages are not included with kids’ meals), 980 calories;
  • Pepperoni pizza with homestyle fries and soda, 1,010 calories; and
  • Grilled cheese on sourdough bread, fries, and 2% chocolate milk, 1,210 calories;

Also offer these options, from a list of healthier items compiled by dieticians:

  • Grilled chicken sandwich, broccoli, and 1% milk, about 360 calories;
  • Grilled chicken platter, steamed broccoli and orange juice, 320 calories; and
  • Build your own breakfast with scrambled egg whites, two slices of turkey bacon, hash browns and orange juice, 360 calories.

CSPI’s freak-out-and-ban-everything mentality doesn’t help parents make and teach children to make healthier choices. CSPI’s anti-personal-responsibility agenda has failed to deliver lower obesity rates even as children eat fewer calories according to CDC data. A new approach, not the same old food-cop story, is clearly needed.