Hard times for McDonald’s Happy Meal lovers, at least for those residing in San Francisco. The restaurants in the city will no longer be able to distribute puppets and toys with special menus for children, unless the aforementioned lunches are kept below 600 calories, 640 milligrams of sodium and 35% fat. An impossible goal for most of the menus distributed by the fast food giant.
The decision was made by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and goes in the direction of other measures, such as the campaign launched by Michelle Obama, to stem the problem of obesity, which in America has reached worrying levels, given that in some States it even exceeds 30%.
Even Italy, theoretically the cradle of the Mediterranean diet and home of healthy eating, overweight children are constantly increasing. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization relating to our country, more than 1 in 5 children between the ages of 8 and 9 are obese (21%) and almost 1 in 2 is overweight (45.6%), with a higher percentage in boys (48.8%) than in girls (42.2%). Lifestyles are to blame: too much TV, little spontaneous movement (walking to school, playing in the yard), incorrect nutrition.
It is questionable whether measures like the San Francisco one are really effective in helping to reverse this trend. We asked Gabriele Buracchi, nutritionist and psychologist, author of several volumes and of a curious interactive game, the “crap meter”, to teach children and their parents the impact on health of “junk food”: “I am fully in agreement with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors initiative. Of course it is not enough, but it is an important sign in a society like the Western one, where eating ready-to-eat foods of not always excellent quality is a habit. How many realize that snacks, drinks and junk food in general have devastating effects on obesity? Few judging by the faces of the parents I meet in the clinic: when I tell them that hydrogenated fats,
Yet even those mothers who organize their children’s birthday parties in fast-food restaurants know that burgers and fries (fries juxtaposed with hydrogenated fats) are not good for your health. However, it is thought that going overboard once in a while is not a big problem: “No one has ever died for a lunch at McDonald’s, of course – Buracchi underlines -. But the serious thing is the educational message that passes through. If they take you there once in a while as a child, it becomes normal behavior and, as a teenager, you are likely to go there every day. In the United States even some school canteens are entrusted to these large fast food chains. Nobody finds anything strange in it ”.
A hypothesis that would make any Italian parent smile. But that’s not all that science fiction if we think that, not more than a year ago, the then Minister of Agriculture Luca Zaia appeared in public with a McDonald’s apron to launch “McItaly”, the first sandwich with Made in Italy ingredients from chain. Sandwich later described as “horrendous” by the food critic of the “Guardian”.