The first lady’s recent remarks to the National Restaurant Association may mean fewer fun foods and more healthy options for kids. Steps have already been taken through the health care reform bill to require eateries to post calorie information on menus. Ad campaigns are being aired to cast a negative image on eating items that are not deemed healthy. Will the next move be to levy ultra-high taxes on sugary, salty, fatty and otherwise “harmful” food as the government tries to regulate us into good health?
It’s ironic that these remarks came at a time when 44% of adults say they are eating out less than they were six months ago, according to Rasmussen Reports. The research show that 78% of those surveyed eat out never, rarely or less than once a week. Therefore restrictions, requirements and regulations imposed on the restaurant operators could make eating out less desirable, because customers want foods not normally served at home. If restaurants don’t provide this, their business will suffer.
Individual restaurants, franchise operators and chains offer entry level jobs to many Americans, particularly young and generally unskilled workers. Forcing menu change is undoubtedly going to be met with foodservice industry resistance. The kids fare is pretty standard throughout the country: macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, burgers, fries and sodas. Instead the first lady suggests fruits and vegetables as well as low fat milk. This won’t do much to get families going out to dinner more often.
When eating at home, only 45% of the nation’s families sit down for dinner together more than three times a week. So what are the family members eating alone and together? Chances are the education and the discipline needs to begin at home. But this would be too difficult to enforce, so the government has selected an easy target to force its will upon. And, it has the power and the wherewithal to make these rules stick.
No one knows how much this will cost in terms of lost customers and lost jobs in restaurants. Naturally, more government employees will be needed and there will be other costs to administer this policing effort. The one possible side benefit is the suggestion to reduce the size of portions being offered. This could represent a short-term savings in food costs, but smaller sizes without lower prices could have a long-term adverse affect with restaurant patrons.
As a New Senior, I remember being taught about food and nutrition all the way through school. Growing up during WWII we had rationing, so good food was at a premium. We grew vegetables and some fruits in our Victory Garden. Fresh produce was available from truck farmers who made the rounds each week. Moms had to substitute ingredients in many dishes. Overall we eat pretty healthy, if not always tasty, foods. The big difference back then was that kids played hard and did this for sustained periods everyday. Getting out, getting active and eating right may be the best way to help slim down America’s kids, but do we want the government to mandate and run it?