Today … today I went along to an exclusive bloggery event thingy, for the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians.
There were cute little Dalmatian puppies there and I, being the only blogger in attendance without children, hereby set myself up beside the food table. Someone has to, really. Also, I was a bit frazzled this morning, because I’d missed breakfast due to some mild stress.
That I had to get two lunches made, three children out the door and drop a grumpy bastard off at a hospital at the edge of the City so he may undergo a minor procedure that required a general anaesthetic, oh, and be fully prepared for a meeting, post event, all on very little sleep was a major factor in the non-breakfasting behaviour.
Usually, I’m a pre- and post-school-dropoff breakfast kind of chick.
Anyhoo, I nibbled on some deliciousness, chat with a few bloggers and found myself beside one I didn’t know. So I introduced myself and had a bit of a passionate ramble at her about food and eating habits in Australia, the overwhelming information about baked and excessively created items for school lunchboxes, the increasing manufacturing and producing of “food” in packages for school lunchboxes, and the climbing number of mothers who are feeling “bad”, guilty and otherwise incompetent because they feel the options are one or the other.
“School lunchboxes are so hard!” is the cry.
But they’re not.
But I digress.
After rambling for ages, I ask “What’s your blog?” and am told she is, in fact, from Disney, and I feel like a big knob. Nice one.
But we chat more about food, and, not a follower of this sort of information from that far back, because I generally don’t give Maccas much of my mind space, and just hadn’t noticed, she told me that Disney, some ten years or so back, made a rather tough decision – one I think would have been difficult to make, a huge risk – and pulled their partnership with McDonalds. The toys with the Happy Meals and that sort of thing.
Wow. Just WOW!
I know it may not seem like much. Food advertising and its effect on people (adults as well as children) is something I studied whilst at uni, along with population health, particularly in relation to obesity. I know that food advertising – whether it be fast foods, snack foods, fruit, vegies – had an effect on what people (taken as the population as a whole, not individuals, of course) purchase and consume. There’s a direct link.
More recently, the Disney channel banned fast food advertising during children’s television programs.
Again, that would have been a massive step. A huge leap of faith to take.
Let me be clear – I’m not an extremist fanaticist about TV advertising, or the rest of it. I’m not anal about policing everything my kids eat. The eat chips and lollies and other stuff. Mostly, they don’t. Sometimes, rarely, they do. And I’m not all thingy about it. Really, I’m not.
I DO care about the health and wellbeing of our kids, our population and the increasing levels of obesity we’re experiencing. It’s not an easy fix.
I AM revoltingly passionate about it. I cry when I hear the huge steps companies like Disney are taking in relation to this. I nearly cried when I told Disney Lady about the clients I used to have when I was a personal trainer – not that hated themselves because they were fat and lived in a society where only thin was acceptable, but because all they wanted to do was be able to tie their own shoes, cut their own toenails and wipe their own bums with ease.
THAT is what obesity does, not all the superficial talk about “you are just bowing to the pressures of the media and society” – which is what I was accused of doing, when I was a PT.
I care SO MUCH that people struggle – mostly unnecessarily (big, loaded, convoluted topic – am generalising a little) – with day to day tasks. That there are kids who can’t run and keep up with their classmates, who puff out just standing up … who have trouble tying their own shoes.
THIS makes me cry.
So to hear of someone like Disney making big moves like this - because it would have been scary and cost them a shitload, a huge risk – it speaks volumes to me.
She mentioned, also, that they had formed an alliance with Coles, and have trialled putting well known Disney characters on things like bags of apples.
Although not needing the incentive (he steals apples from the fruit shop – shhhh) my three-year-old chose this bag because it had Buzz on it (sadly, it wasn’t Spanish Buzz) … if this is going to make another kid pick up the bag and eat the apples when they otherwise wouldn’t, then I’m happy.
(And slightly off topic, how “hard” would it be to include these small apples in a lunch box? Compared, say, to spinach & fetta filo pastries you make yourself? Or sandwich-sushi rolls? Or ice cube sushi? Or even a freaking vegemite sandwich cut into frigging stars? Seriously?)
Massive kudos to Disney for taking these steps. Let’s hope others follow. I’m impressed.
(And a little teary, recalling some of my former clients, and kids at school … literally have tears streaming down my face … I wish I could do … more)