I was walking the exhibit floor at the national meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics and I spotted the McDonald’s golden arch rising above the crowd. It seems they were giving out packaged apples to hungry conventioneers. Not a Big Mac or nugget in site. Only packaged apples.
This attempt at reshaping its brand in front of America’s baby doctors is a strange one. McDonald’s is what it is and free apples won’t change the opinion of the medical community. When we’re looking for fruit or all natural food for our kids, Mickey Dee’s isn’t likely to come to mind anytime soon.
But the coexistence of fast food in our culture shouldn't be a problem for parents who exercise discipline when feeding their children. Bad feeding, like bad behavior, can become a habit without discipline. Feeding discipline should include balance and dietary limits. Like birthday cake, Halloween candy and other dietary indiscretions, fast food should fit into the occasional category. Young children are provided with fast food by adults. And I’m still waiting for that first case of a four-year-old who drives herself to McDonalds for a Happy Meal.
McDonalds should be applauded for providing alternatives to french fries although it doesn’t take a Harvard MBA to figure what’s behind their AAP presence. While easy access to calories has been a major contributor to our obesity epidemic, it’s our lack of feeding discipline that’s ultimately to blame. We’ve created the first generation in American history that’s unlikely to outlive its parents. And no one wants to be accountable for that.