The nation that put cheese in a can and sushi into a deep fat fryer has recently taken some rather progressive steps in terms of obesity prevention. Just last week the San Francisco board of supervisors banned toys with Happy Meals that exceeded thresholds for fat, sugar and salt.
For those of you going ‘huh? Toys don't make you fat, so why ban them?' Here's the rationale: the toys appeal to kids who pester their parents to go to McDonald's to buy the Happy Meal. This often means both the parents and the children end up consuming fast food. Often the toys are part of a set, which encourages kids to collect the whole series - thereby necessitating more trips to McDonald's and more highly processed food consumption.
Jane Martin, senior policy adviser for the Obesity Policy Coalition (of which the Cancer Council is a member), would like to see something similar implemented in Australia.
"Every parent knows that these toys encourage pester power which introduces children to burgers, nuggets and fries, and creates lifelong loyalty," she said.
The ban has caused quite a bit of debate about the most effective way to curb Americans' unhealthy love affair with sugar and fat.
Last year New York City ran a controversial series of ads in subways and online, targeting the consumption of soft drink. ‘Don't drink yourself fat' tried to encourage New Yorkers to think twice before they grabbed a soft drink or a sports drink, many of which can contain up to 16 teaspoons of sugar. The tagline was ‘Drinking one can of soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter a year.'
America's battle with the bulge is well known. Australia is unfortunately not far behind: in less than 5 years, more than one third of the population will be obese. Being overweight or obese can lead to many chronic health problems - one of which is cancer. That's why we're talking about it.
What do you think of the New York ads? Would they make you think twice before slamming down a Solo or gulping down a Coke?
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