Wednesday, November 30, 2011

McDonald's: Doing it Wrong

San Francisco's ordinance on free give away toys at fast food restaurants was intended to nudge restaurants to improve the health of their kids meals. The ordinance requires meals that have free toys to meet certain nutritional requirements. The ordinance is a great idea, as the toys are just marketing gimmicks, designed to create brand loyalty with McDonald's.

As this article states, McDonald's, instead of improving their meals, will charge 10 cents for each toy. This will get them around the ordinance and allow them to change meals on their own terms. Still, the pressure from this law got McDonald's to make some changes to the kids meals, such as reducing the portion of fries. But, they are still not healthy. The extra charge will also likely prevent some from buying the toy, as it's not included with that meal.

So it's time to put more pressure on McDonald's, and we have more legal tools that we can use. I want to know why McDonald's has to sell toys. Aren't they in the business of selling food? Why should food establishments sell toys? Why not create a law that states that restaurants cannot sell toys? I'm not yet sure if this is legal, but I would like to find out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do Kids Need 3-4 servings of Milk a Day?

Many of you know that I have long said that the benefits of milk were overstated. The article below does a good job of reviewing the evidence why:

Wisconsin milk board overstates dairy’s benefits to children, some experts say |

The key statements are this:

“The so-called calcium requirement in the United States is based on very short-term studies (that are) irrelevant to long-term calcium needs,”
-Dr. Walter Willett, who chairs the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health

“We know that those individuals who avoid milk and animal products that contain calcium do just fine in terms of their growth, their development, and their bone health,” - Jennifer Nelson, director of clinical dietetics at the Mayo Clinic

“I wonder how the marketing board explains why the highest rates of osteoporosis are found in countries that drink the most milk, or how cows manage to make huge bones that support their weight while eating mostly grass?”- Marion Nestle, Chair of Nutrition at NYU

“It’s hard not to be sarcastic about this kind of marketing,” Nestle added. “Milk is a fine food if you like it, but it is not an essential nutrient.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Healthy Checkout At Walmart

This video is a great example of a couple of things:
1. Creating healthy checkout aisle shows that behavioral economics works: kids want fruit when it's in their check out aisle.

2. Walmart is doing some more great things in encouraging healthy eating. This was however, a local store initiative. Big Walmart is not yet doing this. Let's how they do.

3. Federal money can work for good. The reason these changes happened was because West Virginia got a grant from the CDC, likely as part of the Affordable Care Act. Federal Money -> States -> Promoting Healthy Changes and Increased Sales.


Life in the health lane - News - The Charleston Gazette - West Virginia News and Sports -

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Is the Food Industry a Partner in Battling Obesity?

Check out this debate about whether the food industry can be a partner in fighting obesity.  Our study is featured about half way through.

Food Industry Friend or Foe Debate: Yoni's opening arguments from Yoni Freedhoff on Vimeo.

This is just the first in a series of videos by Yoni.  For more, see his blog.