Earlier this week, San Francisco's board of supervisors voted to ban the majority of McDonald's existing Happy Meals. Under the new measure — the first of its kind put forth by a major city, though nearby Santa Clara county enacted similar legislation earlier this year — San Francisco restaurants will be forbidden from offering free toys with meals that exceed certain limits on calories, fat, and sugar and do not include fruits or vegetables. A McDonald's spokesperson says it is parents' "right and responsibility — not the government's — to choose what's right for their children." Who's right? (Watch a CBS report about the ban)
The ban is ill-conceived: "There are many causes of childhood obesity, including genetic and lifestyle ones." says Elisa Zied, R.D. at MSNBC. It "takes more than just axing fast foods" to encourage healthy eating patterns in kids. I worry that "ostracizing fatty meals that come with plastic promotional toys could have the unintended consequence of making the product even more appealing."
"Happy Meal ban won't stop kid obesity"
It's a step in the right direction, anyway: Sure, "nothing is going to change fast," says Catherine at The Independent. Children worldwide are already hooked on the Golden Arches, thanks in part to the "food/fun association" imprinted on their Happy-Meal-craving brains. "If you take away that lusted-after toy then maybe, just maybe, the next generation of children will begin to change in the way we relate to food."
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San Francisco needs to rethink its priorities: While other cities are concerned about "mundane matters like going broke," says Bernie Goldberg at AOL News, San Francisco — "convinced it knows what's best for all of us" — is worried about lunch. "If government can ban toys from Happy Meals, what else can it do for our own good? Can politicians pass laws that actually require us to eat fruit and vegetables every day? Can they tax Ding Dongs to the point where nobody but Bill Gates can afford to buy them?"
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Is obesity part of childhood, too? As "big brother-ish" as this move is, we need to do something about the childhood obesity epidemic, says Gerald Pugliese at Diet Blog. If you really feel it's "un-American for your kids to be stripped of their right to McDonald's and cheap toys," you can buy them burgers off the adult menu "then drag their bloated little butts to Toys 'R' Us. Problem solved!"
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