San Francisco to ban toys in Happy Meals..wha??

Heard on the radio this morning that San Francisco is moving to ban placement of toys in unhealthy Happy Meals from McDonald’s.

Here is the MSNBC article.

As someone who works for an organization to reduce childhood obesity– this is GREAT NEWS. California is always the leader in progressive ideas that concerns our health and our environment. San Francisco is the most famous- however they weren’t the first. Santa Clara County did it earlier this year. However, San Francisco will bring all sorts of media attention to this issue.

There will also be a lot of controversy and complaints. Looking up this article I saw a lot of negative comments from those who are concerned with ‘the man’ telling people what they should be eating.

That’s all well and good for those who have a choice. Many low-income families go to places like McDonald’s for convenience and affordability. They are heavily marketed to and often come to the quick conclusion that a Happy Meal is one of the best options to feeding their hungry child.

This sets a bad precedent. As the child grows to a teen then young adult, when confronted with the same decisions (where should I eat..what would be the most filling and the most affordable?) they will go back to McDonald’s. Yet instead of the Happy Meal..they go to the Double Cheeseburger..the Quarter Pounder..then on to the Big Mac.

I am speaking from experience. I remember as a child going to McDonald’s and then feeling pride when I was able to graduate from Happy Meal to eventually the Quarter Pounder. What if my single, low-income mother had healthier and more affordable choices? I could have been celebrating going from baby carrots to ..Beets! (I hate Beets.)

This ordinance is trying to stop obesity in it’s tracks. Making healthy choices available to young kids is a great way to make sure that they make the same healthy choices as an adult. Kids are conditioned through heavy marketing by the food industry to choose foods that aren’t good for them. What if instead of enticing them with a reward for eating a burger and fries- we reward them for eating apple slices? McDonald’s will still get their money..and the movie industry can still promote their movies.

A complainer asked if SF has more pressing things to worry about then telling people what they should be eating. One of the biggest current issues in this country is affordable health care. It is costing this country millions of dollars trying to treat or manage chronic diseases that are linked to unhealthy eating. Countless numbers of Americans are dying because they can’t afford treatment.

I think preventing chronic disease, and preventing the need for costly medical care, is pretty important.

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