Opinion Brief

Will banning Happy Meals make kids fatter?

San Francisco fast-food restaurants can't sell "toy included" kids' meals unless they up the nutritional value. Will McDonald's just skip the toys and offer more fries instead?

In an effort to fight child obesity, San Francisco has barred fast food restaurants like McDonald's from selling "toy included" Happy Meals unless the meals meet certain nutritional guidelines (by including, for example, a half-cup of fruit or vegetables). Sounds wise, says writer Joshua Gans in the Harvard Business Review, but the strategy could just make kids fatter. Restaurants could technically follow the new rules by dropping the "bait" toys, while adding extra fries or sweets to ensure that their kids' meals are still tempting. Will the Happy Meal ban backfire?

This is a legitimate concern: Gans is right on the money, say the editors of The Periscope Post. Many boys and girls probably don't care all that much about the toys anyway — they really "just want the fatty, golden delicious fries." Take out the toy, and the best way to lure in kids is the same trick that works so well with adults — "supersize!"
"Banning Happy Meals could be bad for kids"

Perhaps parents should try... actual parenting: Even if San Francisco fast-food restaurants respond by upping the meals' fat content, says Ily Goyanes at Miami New Times, there's no need to give in to "your whiny brat's tirade" and buy it for him. "There are tons of other, healthier quick-fix choices out there."
"San Francisco says 'no' to McDonald's, "yes" to children"

Sigh: Many parents would love to feed their kids at "slow food," "whole grain" restaurants, says Libby Mitchell at The Huffington Post, but such places tend to treat kids like "vermin." So we go to McDonald's, because the "food comes quickly," and kids will eat it. So make life easier on moms and dads, and "let the kids have their toys."
"In defense of the Happy Meal: An open letter to San Francisco"

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