Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Un-Happy Meal

The board of supervisors in Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco, voted Tuesday to ban the toys that are offered in Happy Meals like cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets because those meals don’t meet prescribed nutritional expectations.
This law applies to all fast-food restaurants giving away Happy Meal type toys intended for children.
Ken Yeager, the board president, said the new law would level “the playing field by taking away the incentive to choose fatty, sugary foods over healthier options.”
“What we’re trying to do is de-link the connection between unhealthy food and toys,” said Mr. Yeager, who added that he believed children chose their meals based on the giveaway that came with it. “Why would a kid say ‘I want a burger with fries’? It’s the toys that they want.”
The law, will allow restaurants to give away toys as long as the meals don’t contain excessive calories, sodium, sugar or fat. “This ordinance does not attack toys,” Mr. Yeager said just before the board passed the law by a 3-2 vote. “Toys, in and of themselves, do not make children obese.”
Mr. Yeager, who doesn't  have children, said the law would take effect this summer after a final vote in May.
McDonald’s, said it was disappointed by the board’s action, adding that “our Happy Meals provide many of the important nutrients that children need,” including zinc, iron and calcium.