Bah Humbug! Happy Meals Under Attack in Court

Filed under: In The News

Happy Meal Picture

Happy Meal toys lure kids to life of obesity, a new lawsuit says. Credit: David Paul Morris, Getty Images

Tell it to the judge, Ronald.

A consumer watchdog group -- on behalf of a mom who says her kids nag her until she lets them stuff their faces with a bag full of french fries -- is suing McDonald's, claiming the fast-food giant is using toys to lure kids to a lifetime of obesity.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest says McDonald's violates California law, making its meals too appealing to kids, thus launching them on a lifelong course to overeating and other health horrors, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The group is representing Sacramento mom Monet Parham, a health educator, who claims her 6-year-old daughter, Maya, frequently nags her into purchasing Happy Meals.

"I can tell them 'No' all day long, but then they see commercials that convince them you've really got to have this," Parham tells ABC News.

She says her daughter especially likes the toys that come with McDonald's Happy Meals. With a smile, the first grader tells ABC opening a Happy Meal is like "a birthday present."

The Washington advocacy group CSPI warned McDonald's in June that it would sue if the company did not stop providing toys with children's meals that have high amounts of sugar, calories, fat and salt, the Times reports. The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, seeks class-action status.

"McDonald's offerings consist mostly of fatty meat, fatty cheese, french fries, white flour and sugar -- a narrow combination of foods that promotes weight gain, obesity, diabetes and heart disease -- and may lead to a lifetime of poor diets," Michael Jacobson, the group's executive director, says in a news release, according to the Times.

In a statement, McDonald's spokeswoman Bridget Coffing says the company is proud of its Happy Meals and intends to "vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food," the San Francisco Appeal reports.

"We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet," she says.

In November, ParentDish reported that San Francisco became the first city in the country 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.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.