As I was doing my weekly search of the news to keep up with childhood obesity prevention, I came across an article that talked about how Austin, Texas is establishing healthier school-zones by banning fast food restaurants from that area. The ordinance hasn’t passed yet. Honestly, I don’t see how it can be passed. See, banning fast-food chains from areas around schools isn’t really going to stop childhood obesity. I personally don’t think it’s a good idea and I’ll tell you why!
There are just so many things wrong with this way of thinking. Kids aren’t going to say “gee, I can’t get my favorite burger within walking distance of school, I guess I’ll eat a salad instead!” Kids are not that easily tricked. They’ll just venture a little further or get their fix somewhere else. Perhaps they’ll head up to the local gas station and grab a candy bar and soda instead! Are we going to ban gas stations, grocery stores and convenient stores from school zones as well?
Hey, let’s take it further! Let’s ban all restaurants! I mean, fast-food chains aren’t the only place to get an unhealthy meal! It never just stops at banning one thing. If a ban on all places that served unhealthy food was enacted in my area, I know of at least 10 businesses that would have to shut down next to one high-school alone. Now THAT’s great for an already horribly depressed economy!
I’m sorry, but this idea is just as insane as the large soda ban in New York City. If you haven’t heard about that, the mayor of NYC banned the sale of sodas over 16 ounces. No more Big Gulps for New Yorkers!
Tricking people into eating better is not the answer to stopping childhood obesity
Here’s the problem with bans: they force people to make healthy choices by removing unhealthy choices. What’s the problem with that? Well, it’s not real. People aren’t choosing to eat healthy because they’re learning about good choices and deciding to become healthier individuals overall. They’re doing it because someone else made the choices for them. They’ll simply find another place to get what they want. They’ll buy three smaller sodas instead of one larger one. They’ll head over to the next town. They’ll just wait until they go grocery shopping and buy all the unhealthy food they want.
How do we prevent childhood obesity? Educate, educate, educate!
The only real way to stop childhood obesity- or anything bad for that matter- is through education. TEACH people about better food choices. Start when kids are young! Make good nutrition part of health class in Kindergarten. Don’t preach, teach. Don’t just tell kids “sweets are bad for you,” tell them why they should moderate their junk food intake. Yes, moderate rather than ban! That is key. Removing all sweets is just going to make them want it more. Our interview with Dyan Hes taught us that!
Another great way to prevent childhood obesity is to make physical activity a more important part of the education system. Give kids back their recess! Take brain breaks so kids can get up and move. Make after-school sports more cost-effective so low-income parents can enroll their children too! After all, studies show that low-income kids are at the greatest risk for childhood obesity.
Bottom line, use common sense rather than alarmist tactics. Bans do not work. Did we not learn anything from prohibition? Keep banning food and we’ll have speakeasies serving Twinkies.
What do you think? Should fast-food restaurants be banned from school zones? If you think I’m totally wrong, please feel free to tell me! I loving hearing opposing sides of debates.