Let’s get this straight, Ronald McDonald isn’t the reason our kids are so obese. The reasons our children (and a goodly portion of the U.S. population) are obese are many. They eat the wrong things in school and at home, they consume too many calories and exercise infrequently or not at all.
Groups like Corporate Accountability International, which is attacking McDonald’s in an effort to get them to dump Ronald McDonald, are indulging in superficial thinking. They lack legitimate solutions. It is easier to portray McDonald's as a bad corporation to gain publicity and rail against. The McDonald’s Corporation is a perfect target and Ronald McDonald is a straw man. If he were gone tomorrow, his absence wouldn’t impact on the nation’s obesity epidemic one iota.
Activist groups who want McDonald’s to retire Ronald McDonald are deluding themselves into thinking that once Ronald is gone our kids midsections will automatically spring back to normal, the pounds will melt off, and all will be right with the world. This is nonsense. Our nation's obesity epidemic is a complex issue with many variables impacting on it. It will not be solved by removing a corporate mascot.
Instead of going after corporations like McDonald’s activist groups that say they want change should be going after the FDA, the imposed federal regulations, school boards and all those who make the decisions as to what is being served in our schools and how it is being served.
That having been said, here are four things that can be done in our schools right now to help with the obesity explosion.
- · Bring back physical education in grades K - 12. Our children know almost nothing about how their bodies function or about how physical activity can strengthen them mentally and physically. Intramurals and the teaching of life time physical activities need to be reintroduced in every school in the country.
- · Flavored milk, laden with sugar and calories, needs to be removed from school cafeterias along with the French fries, the pizza and the chicken nuggets. School lunches are full of empty calories and absent fresh fruit and vegetables.
- · Bring back the teaching of basic nutrition in schools. While we’re at it let’s bring back home economics and cooking for both sexes. These courses should not be electives and should be part of every child’s education before they graduate from high school.
- · Every school board, along with everyone who makes decisions about what our schools are feeding our children should be required to view Jamie Oliver’s show, Food Revolution, season one. I still cannot get over the episode where kids could not identify vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and potatoes but they sure knew what ketchup and fries were.
How is it we expect children, who have no concept of what they are eating, to act in a healty and responsible manner when we are not giving them the tools they need? Let me point out, one more time, this isn't the fault of the McDonald's Corporation.
Granted none of the solutions above is as glamorous as going after a "big bad" corporation. Each one requires hard work and persistence, but these are real solutions that can help this country's obesity epidemic.