San Francisco Lawmakers Take the 'Happy' Out of McDonald's Kids' Meals

Filed under: In The News, Nutrition: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Nutrition: Big Kids

mcdonalds kids meals picture

A proposed city ordinance in San Francisco would require the giant hamburger chain to either stop putting little toys for kids in those Happy Meal boxes, or otherwise make them healthier by adding fruit and vegetable portions and limiting calories. Credit: Jeff Chiu, AP

Bye-bye Megamind, Shrek and SpongeBob. San Francisco lawmakers say you bad boys are luring little ones to unhealthy eating habits, and should be banned from fast food kids' meals, so children will crave apple slices instead of fat and sodium-laden french fries and cheeseburgers.

San Francisco became the first city in the country Nov. 2 to give preliminary approval to an ordinance that would limit toy giveaways in fast food children's meals that have excessive calories, sodium and fat. If a restaurant wants to give kids toys, the meals must include servings of fruits or vegetables, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A final vote is expected next week, and the law is scheduled to go into effect Dec.1.

But adults can breathe a sigh of relief that a ban on fatty foods isn't being aimed at them. In separate news, McDonald's announced Nov. 2 that it's bringing back its iconic McRib sandwich, PorkMag.com reports. The sandwich, which weighs in at 500 calories and 23 grams of fat (and that doesn't count fries), will be available at all McDonald's eateries nationwide for the first time since 1994, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Opponents who are saddened by the Happy Meal law include the National Restaurant Association and McDonald's Corp., which used its now wildly-popular Happy Meal to pioneer the use of free toys to market directly to children, the Chronicle reports.

"We are extremely disappointed with today's decision," McDonald's spokesman Danya Proud tells the Chronicle. "It's not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for."

But lawmakers are happy with the ordinance.

"We're part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice," Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure, tells the Times. "From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. It's a survival issue and a day-to-day issue."

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