…and a side of fries.

Our current generation of children in the U.S. are predicted to NOT outlive their parents.  This statement should shock you in light of the medical advances that have taken place in the last century as well as our access to clean water, food, and for most people, health care.

If there were an epidemic sweeping the nation that affected 1 out of every 5 our children, and caused a slow but certain death, you can be certain that our government and resources would mobilized very quickly to try and eradicate it.  Or can you?

The epidemic I’m speaking of is real and it is childhood obesity.  The major challenges of addressing the issue is that there is no ONE thing that can be blamed.  There’s a long list:  television, lack of sidewalks/safe places to be outside and active, no more phys ed, fast food in schools, computers, computer games, marketing and advertising of less than healthy foods toward children, etc…  and the list could go on and on.  

It’s not that I am picking on this next topic for any other reason than the fact that we went out for breakfast on Sunday morning and was really struck by the kids menu.  You should basically NEVER let your child order off the kids menu.  It is the one place where you are guaranteed to find some of the most unhealthy food.

Here’s what it was: 

menu.jpg

Unfortunately, there’s nothing really out of the ordinary here – your typical kids menu – fried, fatty, fried and sugary.  But can we give a little special attention to the Cheesy Bread?  “Generous portion of cheesy bread with home made marinara sauce, carrot sticks & ranch and your choice of French fries, buttered corn or apple sauce.  I’m here to tell you that most kids are going to choose the french fries and not give the carrot sticks the time of day.  Bread.  Cheese.  French fries.  Though now that I think about it, how is it different from a grilled cheese sandwich?  I think what really gets me is the phrase “Generous portion”.  The Steak & Pierogies comes with 4 ounces of marinated and grilled steak.  An adult serving size of protein is 3 ounces!

Shake a can of pennies at it!  Make it stop!

I do have to give this restaurant props though – they do have some fruit and vegetables on the menu (that aren’t deep fried or drowned in cheese) as well as a grilled chicken option.  Holy cow!  Or chicken, should I say?  I wonder if any child has ever ordered it.  

Is it no wonder that our children are overweight?  I remember many of these basics being on menus when I was a kid, but here’s the problem now:  As a child, how many times per week did you go out to eat?  It was a rare occasion and a special treat.  If you ate grilled cheese and french fries once in a blue moon what was the damage?  Statistics quote that today’s average American family eats out 4-5 meals per week.  A generous portion of cheesy bread and french fries for 4-5 meals each week could do a lot of damage.  And unfortunately does.

Here’s my advice (though I know you don’t recall asking for it):  since portion sizes are 2-3 times what any of us need at a restaurant, share your entree.  Especially if you have kids – order something healthy off the main menu and share it.  

You’ll be doing them, you and your wallet a favor.