From our friends at the Winnipeg Free Press: Children are far more likely to pick a healthier fast-food meal when promotional toys are offered only with those menu options and not with less nutritional fare like burgers, fries and a pop, a study has found.
This is sort of like conducting a study that shows that kids will clean their room if you offer them an extra hour of TV time or will do their homework if they get ice cream after dinner. New study finds that children are easy to bribe! So Canadian researchers discovered that kids between the ages of six and twelve were three times more likely to chose a McDonald’s Happy Meal that included water and apple slices (With caramel dip, because, and this we can all agree on, caramel dip is not only healthy, but is actually a major food group) rather than fries and soda. As long as the “healthy” meal came with a toy.
I’m a mother, but I’m also a rabid fan of McDonald’s French Fries (Just like Julia Child, yo) but even I think that the marketing of fast food to kids needs to be regulated. Because despite my adoration of McDonald’s fries, that shit ain’t good for you. And it’s not very good for our children either. But as every parent knows, except you smart people who have never ventured into a fast food place, kids love the restaurants! They love the play places! They love the fat and salt and sugar laden food and they love the toys that come with them! So maybe the answer is to only offer the toys with healthier Happy Meal options, and for those kids who choose the fries and McNuggets, give them a free tooth brush and some gummy vitamins or a comb with their meal. Here ya go kid, enjoy your sucky prize with your bad menu choice! Your sister gets to include her miniature glitter sparkle pony because she chose the grilled chicken wrap!
Granted, no kid is going to get fat or sick off eating at McDonald’s every few months. I see nothing wrong with a kid eating a fast food burger a few times a year. But ideally I would like to see McDonald’s offer even more healthy choices geared towards children. Like how hard is it to cut veggies into cute shapes or offer whole wheat buns? I think most parents would pay the extra 30 cents or so to feel a bit better about letting their kids eat fast food. And if there is one thing I’ve learned from being a parent, sometimes a little bribery can go a long way. So the next time my kids are freaking out because of some new plastic movie tie-in from Mickey D’s, I’m going to offer them a trip to the dollar store toy section, and then we can head home to eat some nice grilled chicken and spinach.