Goodbye Happy Meal Toys

A law in San Francisco passed yesterday banning toys in most McDonald’s Happy Meals.  In order for McDonald’s to offer kids a toy with their Happy Meal, under the new ordinance, the meal must first meet certain nutritional guidelines.  The ordinance is scheduled to take effect in December 2011.

Meals that qualify must have:

-Less than 600 calories
-Less than 35% of the calories come from fat
-Less than 640 milligrams of sodium
-A fruit or vegetable

The vote passed through San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors with an overwhelming majority of 8 to 3.  While these standards don’t by any means truly deem a meal healthy, I would have undoubtedly voted yes if I were a member on that board.

Growing up as a vegetarian with a health conscious mom, god forbid we ever went to McDonalds.  But I do remember occasionally trying to persuade my mom to stop off and buy me the junky kiddy meals so I could get the toys I saw other kids playing with. Even more vividly, I remember begging my mom to purchase sugary cereals so I could see what secret prize was hidden inside the box like I believed every other kid got to do.  Of course my mom would always firmly refuse on both accounts.  But if the toys marketed towards kids weren’t in junk food to begin with, maybe I wouldn’t have been so persistent in nagging my mom.

Who knows if the ban will actually help childhood obesity or significantly impact children’s choices.  My guess is that the kinds of parents that feed their kids fast food aren’t going to stop buying from McDonald’s just because the toys have been taken away from many of the Happy Meals.  But maybe this will at least give McDonald’s somewhat of an incentive to start upping the nutritional value of their meals.  If any monumental changes were to be seen, I’d think that toys would have to be banned from all junk food marketed towards kids.  Either way, it’s certainly not a step in the wrong direction and doesn’t seem to hurt anybody…well, excluding McDonald’s, but do we really want to help McDonald’s anyway?

What are your thoughts on banning toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals or in junk food in general?

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  • Reply
    November 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    While I’m certainly not interested in supporting McDonalds, I also recognize they’re never going away. 😉 The best thing that can happen is reform, and if it starts with kids that may be the only way it eventually works. If the toy is what gets them there (due, obviously, only to the parent caving in!) it will get them a healthier option under the new guidelines than some other fast food joints.

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    November 4, 2010 at 6:04 am

    Oh this is great news! I didn’t know that- thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Fast Food Companies Still Targeting Children « Food-Fitness-FreshAir
    November 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    […] efforts in San Francisco have gone underway to ban toys in most of McDonald’s Happy Meals, fast food marketing targeting kids around the rest of the country continues to be on the rise.  […]

  • Reply
    January 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    love it! Go cali! (I forgot to tell you, Grace — I’m heading out there for this coming summer with my boyfriend!!)


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