From the Excruciatingly Obvious Newsdesk:
“Is this a ploy that McDonald’s is using in creating a whole new generation of consumers that will be brand loyal specific to McDonald’s?” asks Arizona State University nutritionist Simin Levinson in an American Public Media story about how McDonald’s across Arizona are giving kids a free breakfast during their standardized test week.
APM doesn’t attempt to answer the question, but the answer is the fact of the story itself: the fast-food purveyor’s giveaway just got national news coverage for doing what a single public school district in Arizona does every day: provide income-qualifying children — thousands of them in one district alone — with free breakfast.
And, presumably, the Creighton School District in Phoenix doesn’t do so with the expectation that parents will return to the school cafeteria later in the week to spend their own money on a high-fat, high-salt, processed packaged meal.
Here’s a disturbing bit of research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health: Three-year-olds who ate a diet high in processed foods (ie, high in fat and sugar) showed a reduction in IQ at the age of 8 1/2, compared to young children who started life eating more salad, rice, fruit, fish and pasta.
If you haven’t yet read Michael Moss’ extraordinary New York Times article (excerpted from his new book) on how the junk food industry gets people hooked on its products, be sure to do so. While many of the stories are fresh, the strategies he outlines will already be familiar to those who’ve read the various food exposes by people like Michael Pollan and organizations like the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
A small, but telling, revelation in the account, though, reveals that the grandchildren of the man who invested Lunchables have never eaten one of the high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar processed meals he made into such a huge market success. But they’re apparently good enough to sell to millions of other people’s kids.