Let’s start with the heavy hitters: McDonald’s made a big splash this week when it announced a nutrition overhaul of its much-criticized Happy Meal. They will downsize the French fry portions and put a fruit or veggie in every Happy Meal. This was the talk of nutrition-watchers all the way up to the White House, where Michelle Obama responded to the move: “I’ve always said that everyone has a role to play in making America healthier, and these are positive steps toward the goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity.”
But not everyone is impressed. Marion Nestle, for example, says that these changes are “tiny baby steps” that are more about the company looking good than actually improving nutrition. And Michelle Simon points out that the real question is not how many apple slices kids get, but whether McDonald’s should be allowed to market to children at all. To read more about marketing to kids, see this story from the Media Awareness Network (hat tip: Andy Bellatti).
Curiously, this week a study came out with findings that eating commercially-made food can lead children to take in more calories than if they had eaten similar meals at home. Researchers from UNC Chapel Hill found that children are consuming 179 more daily calories now than they were in the late 1970s — and that the increase is driven mostly by food eaten outside the house. So – think hard before you go through that drive-through.
Elsewhere in the news this week:
Feeding Relationships: Are you setting up your child’s relationship with food in a way that’s going to backfire? Check out Just the Right Byte’s story on parent feeding practices to see if you’re perhaps doing too much pressuring or prompting.
Not Trash, Dinner: Did you just throw away those tomato leaves? Those broccoli stems? Or those orange rinds? From the New York Times: Food remnants that we think of as trash can still have some mighty tasty dinnertime uses – and that’s especially true in the summertime when there’s so much fresh produce around.
Dinner With Kids: Hosting a dinner party with kids in the mix? Never fear, Simple Mom has a whole list of tips to make it easy to host a family-friendly good time. With luck it’ll be one of those late-evening summer parties where the kids exhaust themselves playing outside.
Kids’ Menu: How about instead of offering hot dogs and french fries on the kids’ menu, your favorite restaurant had a make-your-own taco bar with all organic fixings? In the Fredericksburg, VA area, Doctor Yum has partnered with local restaurants to improve kids’ offerings (and you can be part of the program too).
Child Hunger: Please don’t forget that there are still plenty of kids (and their parents) going hungry this summer. Here’s one story about the toll that hunger is taking on kids and their families in Philadelphia. And remember, there are plenty of organizations and food banks that can use your help.
Last but not least, we’ve seen some great kid-friendly summer recipes this week. Check out these Coconut Quinoa Pancakes from One Hungry Mama, Smoothie Breakfast Popsicles from Family Spice, and this BLT Pizza from Savoring the Thyme.
Happy weekend to all!