Here in New York City, after a resolution passed by the City Board of Health in 2006, you will find the caloric count listed next to most of your favorite fast food items on the overhead menus. The idea is that as long as you’re aware that the Double Whopper you’re about to order is almost 800 calories (alone, not including the large order of fries and soda you’ll most likely pile on), you’ll make your decision to proceed with or without your purchase informed and knowledgeable. I’m a big proponent of this measure because I theorize that it will cause a shift in the marketplace, where companies start offering more healthy options to their patrons in order to maintain their customer base (and perhaps even grow it). I don’t see the measure as going far enough, but I understand – baby steps.
The Associated Press recently reported on a study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) that explains how few nutritional options the average parent has to choose from for their children when they eat out. The center found 93 percent of 1,474 possible choices at 13 restaurant chains they examined exceed 430 calorie, which is apparently the recommended per meal number of calories for children. I was shocked to learn that there was in fact a recommended amount – my parents sure weren’t trying to stick to a caloric maximum when they were insisting I clean my plate. In fact, our family rarely ate out at fast food joints and restaurants because my parents recognized the indulgence and the poor healthy options offered. Which leads me to my point. Is this report from the CSPI really necessary? How many parents honestly think a meal that consists of deep-fried chicken fingers, deep-fried french fries, or a fried-cheese sandwich swallowed down with a sugary soda or juice could be anything but unhealthy? Instead of waiting for corporations to make the products they offer healthier, parents need to take a more proactive role in their child’s nutritional well-being.
This falls right in line with the LAMP’s goal, bringing families together through their consumption of media in order to make it a healthy and robust relationship rather than waiting for the media companies to make that decision for them.