Ban on Happy Meals

Serena - posted on 11/06/2010 ( 131 moms have responded )

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San Francisco, California (CNN) -- San Francisco city officials are readying to ban most of McDonald's Happy Meals in current form because they offer toys to entice kids to buy meals not meeting nutritional criteria.

Under a proposal given preliminary approval this week, McDonald's and other restaurants would have until December 2011 to improve their meals' nutrition with fruits and vegetables -- if the chains want to keep offering Captain America figurines or toys tied with latest films.

The proposed ordinance is part of a "food justice movement" and is designed to address how about 50 of the city's restaurants use giveaway toys to sell fast food whose nutritional content is being challenged by the city.

Officials said they hope their measure, the first of its kind for a large city, would encourage similar standards across the country. The San Francisco proposal was modeled after a similar law for unincorporated Santa Clara County, California,

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, who initiated the proposal, said the ordinance would be "a tremendous victory" in fighting childhood obesity. His fifth-grade daughter is in the 6-to-11 age group in which rates of obesity have quadrupled the past 30 years -- coinciding with the life span of the Happy Meal, he said.

"I do believe that toys and other incentives attached to foods that are high in sugar, fat and calories are a major reason for the alarming rise for childhood obesity in this country," Mar said. "This is a very modest ordinance that is an incentive for the industry to take responsibility for healthier choices for children and parents."

McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said the company was "extremely disappointed with the decision."

"It's not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for. Public opinion continues to be overwhelmingly against this misguided legislation," Proud said in a statement. "Parents tell us it's their right and responsibility -- not the government's - to make their own decisions and 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," Proud said.

The board of supervisors approved the ordinance in a first reading Tuesday, by a veto-proof margin. Next Tuesday, November 9, the board is expected to formally approve the measure in a final reading, Mar said. Mayor Gavin Newsom has indicated he would veto the ordinance, but the board has enough votes -- eight out of 11 -- to override the veto, Mar said.

Under the proposal, the food and beverage would have to contain fewer than 600 calories, and less than 35 percent of total calories would come from fat.

The meal would also have to contain 0.5 cups of fruit and 0.75 cups of vegetables and offer less than 640 mg of sodium and less than 0.5 mg of trans fat. Breakfast would have the option of offering 0.5 cups of fruit or vegetables.

City officials expect a legal challenge from McDonald's once the ordinance is approved.

"They hired fancy lawyers for this and flew them out here to meet with us and basically to strong-arm us into not doing this," Linshao Chin, legislative assistant to Mar, said. She said McDonald's attorneys argued corporate First Amendment rights.

McDonald's declined to respond to Chin's comments.

McDonald's, Burger King and Subway are among the restaurants that offer such toys or other incentives in San Francisco, but McDonald's was described by city officials as taking the lead in opposing the ordinance.

The California Restaurant Association also objected to the ordinance because, said spokesman Daniel Conway, "it's insulting to parents and it's more generating headlines than trimming waist lines."

"There's been absolutely no proof that this will impact the way people eat," Conway said. "There's enough ambiguity over crayons and things like that, it has somewhat of a chilling effect. It has raised concerns for restaurateurs of all varieties and segments of the industry."

San Francisco officials compromised on some draft measures in response to McDonald's concerns, such as delaying the proposed enforcement for more than a year to accommodate the chain's schedule for menu changes, Chin said.

"We did have an amendment that these meals needed to include whole grains, and McDonald's said they were not able to meet that requirement because if they added whole grains into their hamburger buns, their buns would crumble. They said that was something that was too strict, so we removed it," Chin said.

San Francisco officials are hoping that the ordinance would force fast-food chains to replace fries and soda with apple slices and milk.

"We hope that this would have a ripple effect, that this is a small step in the food justice movement," Chin said. "We have places all across the country that are known as food deserts. You can't find a supermarket, but you can find fast-food restaurants.

"Even hearing from the McDonald's nutritionist, they were saying that this food even in moderation was OK," Chin said, "but I think it completely discounts how there are some people eating it every day, and there are poor people who rely on it as a food source because it's cheap."

A free toy can be effective on children.

"From personal experience as a child myself, you watch a movie and you walk by a restaurant and they're offering a toy from the latest movie, and you know you want to get that toy," Chin said. "The children are pestering their parents to take them in there and get that toy. It's something that's pretty hard to resist for a 3-year-old.

"So this is incentivizing children to eat these unhealthy meals with the toys," she said.

So what do you think? Is this government gone too far? Should it be a parent's choice?

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Sharon - posted on 11/08/2010

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So? what next? Force them to get rid of the indoor playgrounds too?

Geezus - FREE CHOICE. I happen to LOVE those indoor playgrounds on rainy days and damn straight we spent HOURS there, eating a crappy burger, crappy fries, crappy sugary drink, crappy icecream while my child ran rampant in the play ground, generally eating very little.

Stop trying to parent everyone elses' child. Raise your own and thumb your nose at every fat ass kid in their class and feel superior.

If your child is obese and or has type 2 diabetes, you'd better fucking educate yourself pretty damn quick because you can be damned sure that mcdonalds is the least of their worries.

You know? There is this FATASS kid on my daughters' soccer team. He's a round beach ball of blubber. He's as cute as a button and as sweet as a stick of candy and its all I can do to not squeeze his cheeks and squeal. He plays soccer like a fiend. Has a kick that devastates the ball. He eats his snack of fruit at half time without protest or begging for more. He accepts his healthy after game snack and unlike some kids he doesn't dive into it as if he were starving. His mom is taller than average and a little heavier than she should be. His dad is a HUGE man who is NOT overweight.

So whats up with this kid? The mom has him on a modest diet with his doctors approval. She says he doesn't over eat. I think, he's going to be like his dad - a giant of a man and his body is socking away all this nutritional backup. I saw a kid like this ONE time before and her dad was 6'7". SHE did grow into or out of her blubber.

Stop thinking you're the ultimate authority.

Stop thinking you have the right to tell me what my kids can or can't have.

Stop thinking you know better period.

I'm not telling you what a curbed, narrow world your children are stuck in am I?

Instead of pumping all this damned money into a ban that won't do shit, why doesn't the government pump money into educating the assholes who think they're supposed to live AND die by McDonalds?

[deleted account]

I agree with Laura on this. They're not threatening to ban the meals -- they're using the toys as a bargaining chip to get McDonald's to lower the fat and salt content. Why is that such a big deal?

On the occasions where I've taken Roxanne through a drive-thru I've NEVER got the toy. Did you know that you can opt out of the toy and the meal becomes a dollar cheaper!!!

Mary - posted on 11/07/2010

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But then where do you draw the line? My local Chick Fil A does a free story and craft time every Tuesday at 10:30 am. Is this out of the goodness of their heart...or because when it's over at 11:30, you are in the perfect place to feed your hungry kid lunch? I've gone there with my 2 y/o. They do a great job with it, and she loves it. However, my poor deprived child goes home at the end to eat lunch. We are in the minority. While it's not a plastic toy, it's a great gimmic to entice parents to feed their kids (and themselves) some chicken nuggets and waffle fries once a week. Oh, and let's not forget about that great indoor playground they have...perhaps we should ban those too for any restaurant whose kid's meals don't meet certain nutritional requirements.

It seems that parents need to follow that popular drug slogan we keep trying to ram down children's throats...."Just say NO". It really is that simple.

Instead, we as a society just want to cry about hard it is to do the right thing for ourselves, and our kids - and then wonder why they have a hard time making "good" decisions when they themselves are adults.

I'm sorry, but expecting fast food corporations to make their products healthier (which generally = less tasty and desirable) because we lack discipline, control and time is just ludicrous. They are not in business to provide you with an easy out for healthy, nutritional meals...they are in it to make a profit. Legislating marketing ploys and regulating salt, fat and sugar content is not a solution to poor parenting skills.

Mary - posted on 11/07/2010

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Sorry, but I don't think it's going to be helpful in the least. Perhaps it will level the playing field between fast food restaurants; without the lure of the toy, it doesn't matter to your kid if you go to McD's, Chick Fil A, or Burger King. The problem is the parental choice to go there in the first place. Now, I'm not condemning the occasional visit, but the sad truth is many families eat out a couple of times a week. THAT, to me is, is the bigger problem. If people only ate out every so often as a treat, this law wouldn't even be a consideration. If parents are only patronizing McDonald's because they are caving to pressure from their child...well, that's a fundamental flaw in pareting skills that no law is going to fix.

I was 9 when the concept of the Happy Meal was first introduced. I remember seeing the commercials, and my sister and I begging my parents to take us there for the toy. It was about as useless as asking for Cookie Crisps cereal, or lobbying for pizza or fries for dinner every night. McDonald's, along with any other junk food, was a rare TREAT, and not a part of our daily, or even weekly menu. My parents were steadfast about this; it never occurred to them to be otherwise.

McDonald's, and other fast food places have been around for a long time. The Happy Meal has been around since 1979. The problem of childhood obesity is NOT the stupid toy in kid's meals; it is the fault of a society that eats out too often, leads a sedentary lifestyle in front of the TV or computer, and snacks on chips or cookies while it does so.

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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Seriously, why should I pay the price for someone elses stupidity? I LIKE my fast food once in a while.

The same as I like using butter and lard at times. The same as when I want deep fried opposed to stir fried.

Healthy is great but I like my indulgences. Its not my fault some idiot has no self control

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Sherri - posted on 11/12/2010

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I never said I wasn't effected by marketing read some of my other posts I said I was affected simply my family isn't effected by the fast food ones.

Isobel - posted on 11/12/2010

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ALL fast food chains have been targeted...have you read this thread? We are using McDonald's as an example...

and it is my experience that people who don't believe that they are affected by marketing are simply unaware of it...and THAT'S scary!

Sherri - posted on 11/11/2010

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My kids NEVER have asked to go for the toy they are advertising in total honesty they never ask to go to fast food restaurants period. However, why is Burger King or Wendy's not being targeted as well they all have toys in their kids meals too don't they??

Isobel - posted on 11/11/2010

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and I must confess...I love that food too.

but for the record...it IS illegal to market cigarettes to children...and it SHOULD be illegal to market fast food and sugary cereals as breakfast to them as well.

Isobel - posted on 11/11/2010

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Yes Sherri, you are clearly correct...the marketing department of McDonald's has (in their infinite kindness) decided to give kids toys for fun...don't be ridiculous.

Sherri - posted on 11/11/2010

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I don't see the problem with McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Wendy's, DQ either. We eat at these places as a treat once a month or every other and why shouldn't we it is nobody's business and it certainly isn't the restaurants fault that people have no self control either.

Sherri - posted on 11/11/2010

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The toy doesn't even draw the kids in WHO cares if they add the toy. For cryin' out loud if you are eating at McDonalds you aren't eating there because of the toy. We only eat there every couple of months at the most 1 a month.

I have to be good because I actually LOVE McDonalds but avoid it like as much as possible because the food is sooo unhealthy.

Serena - posted on 11/10/2010

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We live in a Capitalist society so making marketing to children will never be illegal here in the states. There is too much emphasis here on the free market. While I do agree that in general there are way too many fast food options available (count how many fast food or take out places you see in a mile stretch) which offer too much temptation to some, it is not for the government to decide what I feed my child. If they are so hellbent on changing the way my child eats, fix the lunch programs at public schools first. (Michelle Obama is trying to push for it but at the cost of food stamps or other similiar government agencies)

The big deal about this city law is that will set precedence for other cities and states to do the same. So the idea of saying its not going to affect me...

I think education is the key. It won't change everyone but thats the free choice that America was built on...

Bonnie - posted on 11/10/2010

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I don't know if she still does, but I just wanted to point out that I know someone who use to eat McDonalds sometimes twice in a day.

Cat - posted on 11/09/2010

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I disagree with them taking away the toys, I'm glad it hasnt happened here... If I want to treat my kids a few times a month, I'm gonna do it, if the toys go away, I'll just pick them up something to play with somewhere else, but we'll still eat at McD's first, b/c my girls love the cheeseburgers, and my son loves the grilled cheese... We eat healthy about 80 percent of the rest of the month, I like indulging here and there... Anyway, for my family, taking the toys away wont mean squat, we'll still eat there, I just might have to start getting a food treat (like cookies or icecream) at the end of the meal instead... Actually, if you think about it, the toys as the end of meal treat are healthier, unless your kid eats plastic... And what happens when the next big marketing idea, is to do what Dairy Queen does here, and offer Icecream or something equally unhealthy for free with the kids meals? Taking toys out of Happy Meals is like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound, if anyone REALLY wanted to make a difference, they'd be amping up their education on healthy meals/foods, and concentrating on mandating ALL schools have healthy lunches, y'know, places where kids actually attend/eat daily... I also dont believe that for those parents who truly think McD's is healthy 4 or 5 nights out of the week, that the absence of toys is gonna matter... They're still going to go!

Stifler's - posted on 11/09/2010

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I have a KFC weakness lol but I don't eat it even once a week. Maybe when I'm pregnant.

Stifler's - posted on 11/09/2010

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I eat it hardly ever. So it's not a big deal to me. I agree that there are people who eat fast food more often thinking it's cheaper and it's them who ruin it for everyone when they get fat and start suing McDonalds.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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It's not just McDonald's...they want to ban toys with kids' meals at ALL fast food restaurants. For the record, they aren't even the worst...KFC is ten times worse for you than McD's.

And like I said, it's not a big deal for educated moms who feed it to their kids once in a while...it's because of the other half of their customers who don't know or don't care how bad it is for you to eat on a regular basis.

Stifler's - posted on 11/09/2010

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I'm getting confused. I don't see the big deal with Maccas food and it wouldn't taste as good if they made it healthy.

Rosie - posted on 11/09/2010

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in my state you are still allowed to smoke in the car. just throwing that out there, however agree with you laura, and i also agree with sharon, lol. i think we need to do both. educate the fuck out of people, and stop catering to KIDS. adults, i think we can deal with their own stupidity, why should the kids have to suffer more because their parents are to much of a pushover to say no to their whiny kids. i dont' really see how it's punishing anyone to NOT have those toys. people can still go enjoy their crappy mcdonalds if they wanted to.

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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I think they were wrong to get rid of smoking in cars. I don't like it. I hated it when I was a kid and its a huge factor in why I don't smoke and why I won't let my kids near people who do.

Beating kids - a bit of a difference there. Results are immediate and long term.

What sucks is that law isn't strong enough. It doesn't deter people from beating their kids. It jus labels them. It doesn't stop from making more kids to hurt or from being near kids. Its a stupidly ineffectual law.

Laura - posted on 11/09/2010

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Well we'll just agree to disagree, that's what debate is all about right? :) I don't live in cali anyway. gtg ladies, it was fun.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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I ♥ you too Dmak...and I have to go now...cause my head just exploded ;P

Laura - posted on 11/09/2010

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Actually there is no smoking law where I live. And like I said go after the parent for abuse not the company that sells the stupid stuff. Put the blame where it should be. If a parent smokes in the car then that's the cigarette company's fault? Or if they don't put their child in a seat belt blame the auto manufacturer?

[deleted account]

I want to know why some of you are SO opposed to our government trying to regulate something like this. What is wrong with wanting to make things healthier?



Laura, I ♥ YOU! You make COMPLETE sense.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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So we can get rid of the smoking in the car and the carseat laws then? Cause that's the same thing. Survival of the fittest right? If you have a stupid or lazy parent you deserve to get lung cancer, die in a car crash or get type two diabetes?

come to think of it...why should we have laws against beating your kids...if you're too stupid not to know when is too much you kids deserve to die.

[deleted account]

just to bring attention to the fact that it's not a federal law, it's a CITY law......pertaining only to the city of San Fransisco (and its affiliated city)

Laura - posted on 11/09/2010

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Never said you were hun. I'm talking about the people who constantly go to fast food places (4 or more times a week) and have kids who are extremely unhealthy. Please forgive my grammer. I'm a math person and will be the first to admit that my spelling and grammer suck.

[deleted account]

Why is everyone so bent that they want to take away the toy temporarily to force McDonalds' hand to make things healthier? How is that bad? It's a fuckin' toy.



And, Laura S. -- I'm not TOO damn stupid or lazy.

Laura - posted on 11/09/2010

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No I don't think you're just spewing crap, I just happen to disagree with it. I'm sorry I grew up in a small community where people were taught to take responsibility for their own actions, I'm sick of this nanny state and the government have to "fix" everything cuz people are to damn stupid or to damn lazy to make a decision themselves. It's called survival of the fittest. If people are taking this to the extremes by "poisoning" their kids go after the parents that are "killing" them. Not the one's who just want to treat their children once in a while. Beside if you get a happy meal with apple dipper, chicken nuggets and milk the salt content is almost non existent.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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In Australia it's illegal to advertise ANYTHING UNHEALTHY to children...because they have decided that their children are more important than profits. That's the way it should be everywhere.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The marketing companies will be happy to hear that Laura...you know I'm in school to become a marketer right? This isn't just some crap I'm spewing for no reason...The fact that people DON'T give a rat's butt is exactly the problem.

Laura - posted on 11/09/2010

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I don't really give a rat's butt if my son see's an add for the toy on tv. If he asked to go there and get the toy I'll either tell him yes or no. It's not his choice. I don't see how marketing the toy to kids when they are not the one's purchasing it is so wrong. That's what commercials are for is to get people into the building and buy the product. Plus I know a lot of adults who will buy the happy meals for themselves because the toys are collectibles and it is a hobby for them. Whoopi Goldburg was actually one of them who does that.

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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Thats why I think education needs to be PUSHED and SHOVED up their noses!

UGH - at least maybe with this foofur-rah people will pay attention to what they are feeding their kids and how often.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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like I said Sharon...you are a smarter person than most...and a better mother. I wasn't joking.

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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:: sigh :: and bribing children. Parents do it every day. What are you going to do? throw them in jail?

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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Go ahead, let them targetchildren. I work very hard on getting my children to see the duplicity of others.

being manipulated by a pretty girl is no less disgusting than a toy with a meal. And I won't stand for that either.

My kids are not spoiled brats and I do not cater or kow tow to them. IF the toy fits in with their likes we MAY get it but other wise NOT.

those stupid toys came in handy many times when were traveling long distances and they were bored with what they had with them.

Hell, I remember loving whatever surprise they had in teh boxes way back in the day as we drove from Florida to Arizona. We had plenty of books and toys but it was something different.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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I guess it just upsets me how little people know or care about the level of manipulation in today's society.



Companies spend billions of dollars finding out how to get people to do what they want them to...and it works.



There are tons of scientific tests to prove what works and how. You know that airmiles card you have? Companies pay upward of $50 000 or more per list of the demographic information you provide them.



They know what time you shop, they know whether you prefer red signs or blue ones, they know if a sale on diapers makes you more likely to spend an extra $2 on rash cream that's beside it...they know if you buy local produce or imported, and whether you seem to buy wine on the same days that you buy condoms.



Consumer behavior is a psychological science that can be misused to make people do terrible things or to ignore terrible things.



I agree with Loureen when she said that a lot of adults can't see through the message...and that sucks because they count on you not paying attention to it.



Targeting those who are BY DEFINITION unable to defend themselves and make choices other than what they are BEING TOLD TO DECIDE by being bribed is WRONG.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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To be honest, I don't care if they change their food...I just want them to get rid of the toy

[deleted account]

Yes, Dana and Laura! And that's what we all have to keep in mind here. Banning toys in the happy meal until they change the salt and fat content. Although it's sad this is only a city law. I don't expect McStinks to start serving only salads but some of their food contains more salt than you're supposed to eat in an entire day. I wouldn't mind the change.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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if you want your kids to get a happy meal and a garbage toy...go to the dollar store and pick up a bunch and take them with you to McDonald's...That will never be against the law.

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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They are forcing supermarkets to move the candy cereal up out of children's direct line of sight :)

and NO they don't have the right to dictate what you feed you kids...and they're not trying to. They are just trying to stop big companies from preying on children.

Sharon - posted on 11/09/2010

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What if it does? What next? NO icecream at the grocery store? God I hate this shit, micro managing fuckheads have to stick their damn noses into everything. Its none of your business what I feed my kids. Go ahead, change the fat and salt content - change the taste, cause another fuck up. I give up here. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to dictate what I eat or feed my kids.

I hope some organisation goes against the govt about this, I'll be donating money to them.

[deleted account]

"Honest to god, a ban on toys included with a meal will do NOTHING." ~ Sharon

I disagree! It will force McDonald's to change the salt and fat content.

Amanda - posted on 11/09/2010

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I don't think that banning the toy is going to make any difference, people are still going to feed their child happy meals...that's why most resturants make happy meals available! Children can only eat so much and having a smaller more affordable meal is just what kids need! Yes the toy is always a fun little prize our children get when they eat all their food, but I think there already is healthy choices in the happy meals. They offer milk and juice, not just pop. They offer apple dippers not just fries. They offer whole white meat chicken nuggets not just a greasy hamburger! And why is it that big of a deal that a kid eats a hamburger and fries every now and than?! Are they going to put restrictions on what parents purchase at the grocery store for their children? This is bizarre and I think most definetly the government is going way to far with this!!

Isobel - posted on 11/09/2010

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This is the first generation EVER not expected to live longer than its parents.

I don't know what to tell you other than you are smarter than the average consumer...and a better mother too.

I feed my kids McDonald's...in fact Quentin already has the MegaMan AND the Titan toy from his happy meals cause we had a rough couple of weeks. I'm not a crazy mad NO FAST FOOD freak.

I'm just saying that if you knew the effectiveness and the malevolence of these companies and the affect they are having on society as a whole...you would lose your ever-loving mind.

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