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Bill Kalmar

Health Care

Please Pass the Apple Fries?

Is this quality in nutrition?

Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 10:25

Sseems the Diet Police are once again running rampant in our nation. It has been said that close to 30 percent of Michigan residents are overweight, and thus there is a movement afoot to curtail our eating habits, not only in that state but also nationally. Believe it or not, there is some discussion about removing obese children from their parents so that some nutritionist can instill sound eating habits into the youngsters. Perhaps the next step will be to remove children from homes inhabited by smokers, alcoholics, people who drive foreign cars, or people who root for the Detroit Lions (just had to get that last comment in there).

Where does all this madness end? Frankly, if we’re removing children, I vote for rescuing little girls from the claws of mothers who feature them on that ridiculous program, Toddlers and Tiaras, where dressing in provocative outfits is the norm. Now that is something we should be concerned about, not someone who is a bit chunky.

The national program to keep us healthy is called “Kids Live Well,” and evidently thousands of fast-food restaurants are participating. Participation means providing meals of fewer than 600 calories to children. It means pancakes with fruit, veggie burgers  apple fries, sliced apples, granola, turkey sandwiches, yogurt, and various flavors of smoothies. It seems like a good idea, but how many children will opt for apple fries instead of the appetizing French fries that are the beloved standard? And more important, will parents steer their offspring toward the healthier meals, or even set an example by taking the first apple-fried bite?

American youth are an active group. What with travel baseball, pickup basketball games, sports camps, and organized sports at schools, there doesn’t seem to be a dearth of healthy activities. On the other hand, we have a nation of overweight, sedentary adults who disdain any type of exercise and continue to line the pockets of the two CEOs of Little Caesars Pizza and Domino’s Pizza. And these are the same parents who are now expected to encourage children to pass on pizza and burgers and fill their trays with fruits and vegetables. Right.

Here is my take on this whole controversy. Parents are responsible for raising and feeding their children and instilling a value system. Some parents understand that obesity can have a deleterious effect on children. Not only does it adversely impact their health, in some instances obesity has also become a focal point of bullying in schools. So these parents do the right thing by preparing healthy meals at home and restrict the number of visits to fast-food establishments.

But there are parents who may not be strict when it comes to eating habits for their children. So should we intercede and aggressively subject these parents to some standard established by the government? If we we’re living in Cuba, maybe that would be appropriate. In the United States, we have “freedom of speech,” we should also have “freedom of eating.”

This is not the first time fast-food restaurants have embarked on a plan to provide healthy meals. Several years ago they began offering veggie sandwiches for sale. I recall reading about a CEO of a fast-food restaurant who stated that, nationwide, people were buying only three veggie sandwiches per store. As the saying goes: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

So let’s all take a deep breath and allow our youth to make their own choices when it comes to snacks and fast food. In most cases, they will make the decision that satisfies their taste buds. Some will eat healthy and choose the apple fries; some will opt for the French fries. If that is the biggest problem we face as a nation, then we are doing pretty well.

I’m off to the new burger place in our town that just opened last week. Its slogan is “Feast On.” I have a coupon for a Big Buford—it comes with two patties, two slices of American cheese, and is served on a toasted bun with lettuce (very healthy), tomato, onions, pickle, and a healthy dose of mayo, ketchup, and mustard. It also comes with French fries and a Coke, all for $3. Sounds like a real quality treat; just don’t let anyone in the government know. I don’t want to be whisked from my home, end up in a jail cell, and be forced to eat Brussels sprouts all day. Yuck!


About The Author

Bill Kalmar’s picture

Bill Kalmar

William J. Kalmar has extensive business experience, including service with a Fortune 500 bank and the Michigan Quality Council, of which he served as director from 1993 through 2003. He served on the Board of Overseers of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and has been a Baldrige examiner. He was also named quality professional of the year by the ASQ Detroit chapter. Now semiretired, Kalmar does freelance writing for several publications. He is a member of the USA Today Vacation Panel, a mystery shopper for several companies, and a frequent presenter and lecturer.


On who's authority?

Thomas Jefferson

If people let government decide what foods they eat
and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a
state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.

So, do your own thing

Please feel free to eat whatever you want. But, when it's time for the triple bypass, be sure you pay all of your hospital bills out of your own pocket - no insurance, no charity care. Can't get into the ambulance without a Visa card. Well, that's the good old American pioneer spirit, right?

It is often said that you cannot legislate behavior. How is it that seatbelt usage has risen dramatically? Simple - You legislate consequences. No belt - Pay up.

You are already being coerced into not smoking, eating better, and exercising more by private insurance companies who charge higher rates for smokers and higher rates for whomever they deem appropriate (i.e. sick people)

So, make sure that the government doesn't coerce you - Let's leave that to private industry. We all know how well they will look out for your welfare.

Public policy can't be anecdotal. All those kids running around on the soccer field doesn't counterbalance the much larger population of kids who get no exercise. Obesity rates going through the roof for both adults and kids can't be wished away. Other than "let them get fat - serves them right," do you perceive a problem? Any solutions that will sit well with you?

Mr. Leahy's Response

I agree with the article. I think you, Mr. Leahy, are missing the point. That is, what business is it of yours or the government's whether or not little Johnny eats different stuff than you do and gets obese because of it? Your last question, "Any solutions that sit well with you?" does not deserve or require an answer in this country of individual liberty. It assumes, and wrongly so, that we the people or the government at any level, have to come up with a solution for this. The Constitution doesn't say so, does it? The Declaration of Independence declares that we have the right to be free from an oppressive government that wants to deprive us of the ability to make our own decisions about our personal lives.

Jeff Greer FAI Quality Manager