New Law Bans Toys in Happy Meals

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San Francisco getting closer to banning toys from being given away with most fast foods and if it passes, McDonald’s will not be able to include toys in its Happy Meals unless they contain foods such as apples and carrots instead of hamburgers and fries.

Under the ruling, scheduled to take effect in December 2011, San Francisco restaurants will be allowed to include a toy with a meal only if the food and drink in the meal contain fewer than 600 calories, less than 640 milligrams of sodium and if less than 35 per cent of the calories are derived from fat (less than 10 per cent from saturated fat), except for fat contained in nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese.

McDonald's disappointed by Happy Meals toy ban decision

We are extremely disappointed with this decision. It's not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for," McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said in a statement Wednesday. "Public opinion continues to be overwhelmingly against this misguided legislation. Parents tell us it's their right and responsibility, not the government's, to ... to choose what's right for their children. We are extremely proud of our Happy Meals which give our youngest guests wholesome food and toys of the highest quality. Getting a toy with a kid's meal is just one part of a fun, family experience at McDonald's."

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What McDonalds may not understand is that obesity in children is significant public health problems in the United States. The number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled. Being overweight during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of developing high cholesterol, hypertension, respiratory ailments, orthopedic problems, depression and type 2 diabetes. It cost Americans billions of dollars and government needs to step in and help.

The man who sponsored the measure, San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, says the aim of the ban is to promote healthy eating habits while combating childhood obesity. He calls the move "a challenge to the restaurant industry to think about children's health first."

"This is a tremendous victory for our children's health. Our children are sick. Rates of obesity in San Francisco are disturbingly high, especially among children of color," said Mar.

Mar said that right wouldn't be taken away. Toys, he noted, still would be allowed in meals that meet the healthier nutritional guidelines. "It's not a ban; it's an incentive," Mar said.

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