Last spring, Santa Clara County, California banned toys in high-calorie fast food, such as McDonald’s Happy Meals. San Francisco is now considering a similar law in an effort to fight childhood obesity. A poll conducted by the San Francisco Chronicle has found that 65% of people do not support the law, and the restaurant industry is fighting back.
San Francisco’s proposed law differs than Santa Clara’s in that it applies to all restaurants, not just targeted ones in unincorporated areas. SF Gate explains:
San Francisco’s legislation would not prohibit toy giveaways outright, but limit them to menu items that meet strict nutrition guidelines.
For example, no single item could contain more than 200 calories or 480 milligrams of sodium. An entire meal could have no more than 600 calories.
Not only do toy marketed meals targeted for children have to meet strict calorie and sodium requirements, but they also must serve fruit and vegetables.
The restaurant industry is not happy about the proposed toy ban. FreeToChooseOurMeals.com, led by Bob Cutler, CEO of Creative Consumer Concepts (C3), is leading the fight:
Cutler added that this Toy Ban is only the first such move to blame restaurant owners for providing what consumers want to eat. “We have heard that a ban will be forthcoming on your ability to offer other marketing incentives next: no anniversary specials for married couples if the food is not healthy by law; no free birthday treats for kids celebrating a birthday unless it is healthy by law; and no discounts on bundled meals if the combo is not healthy by law,” said Cutler.
How do you feel about bans on toys in unhealthy meals for children? Do you think such laws infringe upon personal freedoms, or do you think the government should regulate the restaurant industry’s marketing to help curb childhood obesity? One thing is for sure, the government would not allow the tobacco industry to use cartoon characters like Joe Camel. Is unhealthy food really that different than cigarettes when we know the negative lifelong effects? Perhaps they should come with a surgeon general’s warning.