In recognition of September being the first ever “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month” and Anytime Fitness’ dedication to this challenging topic, I found it fitting to discuss one of the major obstacles that families, parents and children, face on a daily basis.
This is merely my own personal opinion as a father of three, coupled with information and statistics regarding the fast food industry and does not reflect the corporate view of Anytime Fitness or executives and employees, Anytime Health, franchise owners or investors.
I haven’t dined at a fast food restaurant in close to six years, right around the time Super Size Me, a fast food-based documentary was released. When I reference fast food restaurants in this article, it pertains to establishments such as McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Hardee’s and similar vendors prevalent in the Midwest with national and international scope. I think it’s only fair that I state that although I haven’t dined in a fast food restaurant in six years, my family, three children and my wife, have.
With my wife and I managing our careers, owning two Anytime Fitness’, kids in school with their activities and sports, vacations and life being busy and hectic, one can rationalize with the concept of occasionally substituting the chow served at fast food restaurants when time is in short order. The challenge we face as parents, by substituting fast food in the place of healthy, home prepared and cooked meals, is that our kids are becoming obese, addicted to quick, processed and unhealthy diets and lifestyles.
One of the biggest hurdles with overcoming this epidemic is that our families, specifically our children, are being targeted by fast food chains. Not only do they, fast food chains, view our children as current, multi visit customers, but their future revenues and growth depends on hooking our children to their brands. The average family of four dines outside of the home four times a week; two of the four times at a fast food restaurant. The average cost for a family of four ranges anywhere from $30-$50. 1 in 4 American visits a fast food restaurant each day and $142 billion is spent annually.
McDonalds alone feeds more than 46 million Americans a day and distributes more toys on an annual basis than Toys-R-Us while a survey completed 8 years ago, proves that most kids recognize McDonalds before they can speak. Second only to Santa Claus, Ronald McDonald is recognized by over 96% of American children. These statistics vary from state to state and demographics and economic indicators influence the overall data, but it’s obvious why the fast food chains are intent on keeping and growing a robust customer, pipeline.
They snag our children with kid-based meals, jungle-gym play areas and alluring, hero-like characters such as Ronald McDonald (McDonald’s), The King (Burger King) & Wendy (Wendy’s). Although it’s easy to blame these chains for negatively influencing our kids, reference the growing pandemic of childhood obesity or merely blame the busyness of life in general, I don’t remember the last time my kids commandeered the family SUV, drove to a fast food restaurant, ordered a pile of food and ate until their little hearts were content. I don’t remember it happening because at the end of the day, we as parents allow our kids access to these chains. A theory mentioned in a previous article by Anytime Fitness CEO, Chuck Runyon, states that our kids are not fighting an obesity problem. We as adults are the driving factor and responsible for waging a war against obesity and it’s our duty to implement a change.
The toughest development we all face as families and leaders of our homes, is if we don’t fight for a lifestyle change now, this trend will affect our children and ultimately generations to come.
8/18/2010 at 9:52 PM