You’ve heard it all before: For years, the health zealot’s rallying cry has been that children need to be “protected” from food advertising and tempting toys in their happy meals. But kids today are smarter than food activists give them credit for.
A recent survey shows that more and more youngsters are making moderate food choices at restaurants – choosing apple slices instead of French fries to go with their cheeseburgers, for example. And another study shows that childhood obesity rates have leveled off in the past few years. Coincidence? We think not.
Nutrition education efforts are working out even at restaurants where, as The New York Times notes, children are typically allowed to place their own orders. Kids are starting to pick healthier foods even though nutrition zealots have yet to succeed in banning advertising or free toys with kids’ meals. (And in spite of some moms doing their best to give their kids food issues.)
But nutrition radicals like Kelly Brownell aren’t interested in whether their anti-advertising policies will actually work. They’ve been clinging to their so-called link between obesity and advertising for too long to let it go because of inconveniently contradictory evidence. Wonder if the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) will ever tire of suing food companies that advertise during children’s television programs? We’re not holding our breath either.
Taking away food choices isn’t the road to better health – for children or adults. Let the kids make up their own minds. They just might surprise us all.