McDonalization of children’s food

McDonald's fast food is unhealthy for children

When I vaguely coined the term McDonalization in my mind to represent the flourishing (though not nourishing) fast food culture among children, I realized that this term had already been conceptualized and well defined by Sociology author George Ritzer in 1993. That made me feel outdated and McDonald’s as rather pristine/primitive.

Only that Mr McDonald entered India much later in 2001, and thus began the tsunami waves of the junk food culture which were to destroy food habits of children & adults alike in India too. McDonald’s has since become a common household term with almost every bacha bacha being aware of it.

Clever marketing targeted at children ensures that they decide which restaurant will be their birthday party venue and unfortunately McDonald’s often tops the list, though recently there are other popular pizza joints also which are rooting for the number one position. Urban parents are usually proud to host parties at these locations calling it a fancy one-time indulgence.

I wonder how many of us know that McDonald’s started in the US as a beef burger joint which is not an acceptable idea for most Indians who consider the cow as a holy animal. And ironically, the man who brought McDonald’s to India is a staunch vegetarian with a conservative Gujarati family background. Nevertheless, despite its recent acknowledgement regarding use of beef fat for frying vegetarian French fries, I still see a long queue at the McDonald’s outlet of food courts at malls.

What makes these foods to be called as junk is that it contains high levels of refined sugar, white flour, trans fat and polyunsaturated fat, salt, and numerous food additives such as monosodium glutamate and tartrazine; at the same time, it is lacking in proteins, vitamins, essential minerals, fiber, among other healthy attributes. These foods have little enzyme producing vitamins and minerals and but contain high level of calories in their place.

This excess of the non-essential nutrients yet taste enhancing qualities of junk foods leads to the over consumption. With good part of daily calorie requirements coming from these junk foods, children are at a risk of falling prey to obesity, high blood pressure and even diabetes. Scientific evidence shows that age of onset of these lifestyle diseases is coming down among Asians as well.

Hence, it is important to keep consumption of junk food in control amongst children so that they avoid falling prey to lifestyle diseases and live a healthy life. This can go a long way in helping them in managing their health.

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