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Exposing your children to peril: then and now

Children in peril! Save them!

Children in poor areas exposed to five times as many fast food takeaways,

reports the Guardian, not that you needed to be told that. (Fun fact: the Guardian‘s name was originally understood to mean “Guardian of our liberties”.)

Increasing numbers of fast food take­aways are springing up close to schools in England, with pupils in the most socially deprived areas exposed to five times as many outlets as their richest peers.

Data provided to the Guardian by Cambridge University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (Cedar) shows more than 400 schools across England have 20 or more fast food takeaways within a 400-metre radius, while a further 1,400 have between 10 and 19 outlets within the same distance.

Public health experts have warned that heavy exposure of children to fast food outlets and increased consumption of high-fat nutrient-poor food leads to greater risk of childhood obesity, as well as heart disease and stroke in later life.

Read it in conjunction with an essay by Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt that I found via Instapundit called “The Fragile Generation: Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed”.

Having saved the children from the perils of walking to school and active play we are surprised that they are fat. In fact I suspect that half the appeal of fast food joints to schoolchildren is not the food per se; rather it is the chance to hang out with their friends and make minor decisions about what they want to do next without adults looming over them.

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21 comments to Exposing your children to peril: then and now

  • The fastest food to serve is raw. That includes fruit, salad and other raw vegetables – all part of the government’s 5-a-day recommendation.

    So I ask: have the correct words been used to define whatever problem might really exist?

    Best regards

  • Paul Marks

    So does the Guardian want to return to the practice of husbands going out to work and wives staying at home preparing food for the children?

    No – I did not think so.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . more than 400 schools across England have 20 or more fast food takeaways within a 400-metre radius, while a further 1,400 have between 10 and 19 outlets within the same distance.”

    Wow. I’ve been in most big US cities, and I can’t think of ten areas that would satisfy that “20 or more fast food places within a 400-meter radius” condition, and maybe thirty that might have between 10 and 19. (ETA – Unless you count large enclosed malls, but you typically don’t find a school close to those.)

    Y’all must be fast-food addicts over there.

  • JadedLibertarian

    A burger van was recently denied an application for a pitch in a town near me. He was within 500 meters of the high school and was accused of trying to “get at” the pupils who the council wanted to keep within a literal bubble of healthy eating.

    The thing is, he was much closer to a further education college which isn’t covered by their fast food ban. Also, it’s a small town of 20,000 people with 2 high schools and 5 primary schools. I used Google maps to drop a 500 meter circle over every school in town. Nearly everywhere is within 500 meters of one of those schools. My best guess is about a twentieth of the town was not within one of those overlapping circles.

    The newspaper reported this entirely uncritically with no examination of what “within 500 meters” actually means in a small relatively dense town.

  • JadedLibertarian

    Interestingly, the route the children would actually have to take to get to the van is almost exactly 500 meters. The “500 meter radius” assumes high school students have VTOL capability and can travel in straight lines. It’s been a few years but I don’t remember having that ability in high school 😉

  • Eric

    What an odd way to title that article. “Exposed to”? Is that like being exposed to lead or polonium?

  • Julie near Chicago

    This for you Legal Eagles out there: Can one sue one’s parents posthumously? (After their death, I mean. Not after one’s own — that would be silly. Unless one’s Executor entered the suit on behalf of one’s Estate, but still, one is not one’s Estate. –Oh never mind, this is already farther O/T than I usually permit myself. 🙄 )

    You see, directly across the street from my high-school in the late ’50s was a small grocery store, Bybee’s. Bread, eggs, milk, some canned goods, potato chips, lunch meat, candy bars, soda, ice-cream bars, popsicles!, etc. No booze or ciggies, of course, but they’d have had Moon Pies (ick), Pop Tarts (ick), and such, had those items existed at the time. (OTOH, Twinkies were definitely on offer.)

    Bybee’s clientele included regular civilians (moms, dads, maiden aunts, dog-owners), not just inmates temporarilyreleased from the high school at lunchtime or after school. However, those of us who’d managed to acquire a penny here or a penny there did enjoy patronizing Bybee’s when not on duty in School; sometimes to feed the craven inner craving for a Twinkie, and sometimes Just Because.

    So now, I wonder if I can sue my folks for allowing me the wherewithal to patronize Bybee’s once in awhile. As per the OP here, does that not constitute Child Abuse? Should not DCFS (the Ungreat State of Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services, or, as I fondly think of it, DefCon) have been after my folks, all the other kids’ folks, and naturally Mr. & Mrs. Bybee, for having such a toxic-waste pool available only perhaps 150′ or so from a school?

    Still, here I am. As are hundreds of others who attended that school, and visited Bybee’s, at that time.

    Perhaps the danger was less great than is now believed.

    .

    Natalie writes,

    “In fact I suspect that half the appeal of fast food joints to schoolchildren is not the food per se; rather it is the chance to hang out with their friends and make minor decisions about what they want to do next without adults looming over them. “

    Indeed so. I’m quite sure (having been not just an eyewitness but an actual participant in the Bybee Experience) that that was true for us then; and why not for kids today?

    (Especially in a world where, as was widely reported Stateside at the time, one can be put on probation for child abuse/neglect if his 11-year-old son has to stay outside in his nice safe suburban yard — complete with a storage shed for shelter should it rain, which it didn’t — for an hour because he forgot his key and when he got home Mommy had gone shopping or whatever so he had to wait for her to return.)

    (Especially in a world where attempts are made to teach children that it is Dangerous for them to go about by themselves, unGuarded by legally sanctioned spie–er, chaperones.)

    (Especially especially in a world where children are taught over and over again that Independence Is Not Safe, nor yet desirable. That they are not to be trusted, just because they could conceivably make a mistake. My god!)

    .

    Again, from the O.P.:

    “Having saved the children from the perils of walking to school ….”

    When the Young Miss was in grade school — lo these 3+ decades ago — parents who allowed their children to walk, in good weather, anywhere from 1/10 to at most 1/3 mile to school were treated to investigation by the Forces of DefCon. And, effectively, put on probation by same for their neglect. This in what was a small, safe rural subdivision of what I’d call lower-middle class families, and where the school district did not provide bussing to children who lived within walking distance of the school — on the grounds that such a walk to & fro was not really unbearably and unconscionably onerous to the pupils.

    .

    –End of rant … for now. Natalie, a good posting on a positively nauseating state of affairs.

  • bobby b

    “Can one sue one’s parents posthumously?”

    Sure, but only until the parent’s estate has been closed. Happens a lot in car accident cases in which the at-fault driver dies. It’s the only path to their insurance coverage.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Hm. Thanks for the info, bobby. 🙂

    Unfortunately, neither of my folks did anything suitworthy, and both estates were closed long ago. Cheated, I tells yer! I been cheated! ;>)

  • In my day (quavers Niall Kilmartin while leaning heavily on his cane – this is all so alien it feels it must be that long ago 🙂 ) we stayed in the playground during lunch – no-one was allowed to leave to face the dangers of fast food or anything else. We were told to eat what was set before us, and if you sicked it up they were quite capable of putting a fresh serving in front of you and standing over you while you ate it. (I’ve never been able to endure gooseberries since I experienced just that with a gooseberry fool one primary school lunch.)

    And that was a boys school; the girls were tougher in this and other ‘deportment and manners’ respects. A girl I often ate out of a mess tin with in the back of a four tonner crammed with squaddies told me she was finally grateful to her school for putting a plate between her body and each elbow during meals and making her eat without dropping them: “It taught me to eat in a confined space.”

    On the other hand, no one asked any silly questions about how safe were the games we played. It was my proud boast that I could make a run of ‘British Bulldogs’ against my entire class. I wonder if the game has been banned there now on safety grounds – or because ‘British’ offends some natz teachers?

  • bobby b

    ” . . . she was finally grateful to her school for putting a plate between her body and each elbow during meals and making her eat without dropping them . . . “

    Ha! It’s a universal lesson in crowds. I was taught the same thing, with a 5.56mm cartridge stuffed in each armpit. Drop one, and your meal was over and you headed to the cooking area to clean up. You could pack a lot more people around a table once everyone had learned that lesson.

  • Peter MacFarlane

    There is the obvious point that shops and retail outlets of any sort will naturally be more numerous in more heavily-populated areas, and that poorer areas tend to be more heavily populated…

    And the other obvious point that the mere existence of a “fast food outlet” obviously forces children to patronise same, because nobody at all bears any responsibility whatever for their own actions…

    Quite apart from those, Natalie’s last sentence pretty much nails it.

  • Thailover

    Only the most obtuse statist would think that reduced options is better for everyone, especially the poor. And, BTW, fast food does not = high fat, high calories and low nutrients.

    If low cost, fresh and hot food isn’t available, especially for the poor, the reactionists would insist that there is a problem. But now that there IS low cost, hot and fresh food available, (made possible via corporations and free trade), again, they pretend that this is horrible. It’s just more grievance peddling. A tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • Albion's place

    FFS… Schools are mostly built near houses, and that includes shops. A lot of people eat fast food, maybe more than is good for them (I had a neighbour who in five years in a new house had never used the oven) and these outlets wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a demand for them. The statement that these places are ‘within 400 metres’ covers lot of people liking fast food outlets near them.

    Yes, kids eat fast foods, in the same way every child these days who goes into supermarket has to — absolutely has to — have a bar of chocolate or bag of sweets in their hands as they are walked/wheeled round. Admittedly we have far more fat kids than when I was little (my school of 750 kids in the ‘sixties had one who could be classed as fat but whose girth today would not raise any eyebrows) but ’tis not all fast food outlets causing the issue.

    Incidentally, oop here in t’north a lot of fast food outlets are run by those of the one true faith, or middle-easterners at least and I wonder if this would cause a flurry of feathers over ‘wayciss’ attitudes to shut them down.

  • “Increasing numbers of fast food take­aways are springing up close to schools in England, with pupils in the most socially deprived areas served by five times as many outlets as their richest peers.”

    There, I fixed it.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Peter McF, December 2, 2017 at 10:57 am,

    “There is the obvious point that shops and retail outlets of any sort will naturally be more numerous in more heavily-populated areas, and that poorer areas tend to be more heavily populated…”

    (My boldface.)

    Not necessarily true. For instance, my hometown of Amboy, Ill., pop. 1800 at the time, had two medium-sized (for the times) grocery stores by the time I was a teenager. Admittedly neither was Fortnum & Mason’s, but they provided a good variety of stuff with which to make Real Food yourself at home, as well as carrying the more popular of the frozen and canned prepared foods of the era.

    In contrast, Hyde Park, the home of the University of Chicago, is a neighborhood integrated both “class”-wise [poor starving students + faculty elites AND, of course, the former home of so-called “president” B.H.O.] and “racially.” True, not much occupied by the true Urban Poor, not since the days of Urban Renewal anyway. (To be sharing an apartment with other starving students in the early ’60s was not as bad as living under a bridge over the Chicago River, but upscale accommodations it weren’t.)

    In all of Hyde Park, there was one, ONE, supermarket: The Co-Op. Reportedly, and I’ve never heard this contested by anyone, the reason was that the PTB, the movers & shakers, in Hyde Park purposely wouldn’t license other large grocery stores. Presumably that was because UC, which had and has extreme political clout in Chicago, wouldn’t permit it. I’m not sure that the Co-Op has any competition in Hyde Park proper even now.

    I promise you, the population (and population-density) of Hyde Park is considerably more than 1800. Or even than the current Amboy pop. of, I think, roughly 2400.

    (To this day, none of the “Big Box” stores, such as WalMart, are permitted in Hyde Park. Course, Wally’s has a tough time getting into Chicago anyway. Jobs, pay scales, unions, don’tcha see.)

    The point is that what kind of shops, in what kind of variety, selling what kinds of merchandise, are allowed in a given locale is a function not only of pure-theory market economics, but also of actual political realities. And so, consequently, are the products available to the customers who shop in that locale.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thai, December 2, 2017 at 11:35 am, I am glad to see that you continue today’s train of high-quality remarks:

    “BTW, fast food does not = high fat, high calories and low nutrients.”

    Ah yes, a MacBurger. Small piece of meat, small salad, two small pieces of bread. Consumed in the form of a sandwich, with or without added ketchup mustard relish onions.

    I believe that’s what they call a “balanced meal,” even if it’s on the small side. You can add the third food group, Starch, by ordering a side of fries. Course the meat’s not Prime Rib, but then red meat and — FAT — aren’t good for you anyway, as Everybody Knows. [EDIT: the snark on “fat” is called “sarcasm.” Your body desperately needs fat, one of its most important building materials.]

    Although to tell the truth, I haven’t had a McBurger or a Whopper in years. Nowadays I greatly favor Culver’s. They make real, old-fashioned hamburgers, quickly griddled, thinnish, juicy, very flavorful.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Speaking of Pizza. Basically, your open-faced cheese sandwich; hot, ideally. Tomato sauce included. May also have meat, fish, veg, fungi, even gawd-help-us ham and pineapple added to it.

    If you really really don’t approve of leaving the Vegetable Kingdom, you can skip the cheese and fleisch and pretend that our canines and incisors are there so we can deal with soybeans.

    Even if you buy it from the store freezer in a box saying “Mama Celeste,” it’s still a cheese sandwich.

    (But Pizzeria Uno made a better sandwich than Mama Celeste’s. 😉 )

  • Gong Cult

    One of the interesting things about hanging out at a neighborhood fast food joint, besides running into your peers- pinball games(and into the 80’s – video games,) Amusement for a teen, pretty harmless with the added incentive of mindless fun. GUESS THAT DOES’NT HAPPEN ANYMORE.too many threats to the well-being of youths these days.. .

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I’m a little bemused that no commenter yet has suggested that the clustering of fast food outlets around schools may be because school food is bloody awful. Has the world changed that much?

  • Surellin

    So we’re worried that the poor will have too much food. Is this a great world or what?

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