Should Toys be Banned from Happy Meals?

Santa Clara County, CaliforniaCounty Supervisor Ken Yeager has proposed a ban on toys in kids’ meals at fast food restaurants. He would like to limit restaurants from offering toys that encourage children to eat fatty, sugary, high-calorie foods which may lead to childhood obesity.

Yeager told on Monday, “they want the toy and have no idea what’s in the food. You can’t expect a 3-year-old to say there are too many calories in that hamburger.”

The California Restaurant Association is unhappy about this proposal. Dan Conway, a spokesman for the Association argues that fast-food chains have been offering healthier alternatives such as salads, apple slices, and juices for children. He believes that offering customers wider options is better than “piecemeal legislation.”

In 2008 Santa Clara county required fast food restaurants to include calorie counts on their menus. This law was later adopted by the state of California. states:

Yeager cited a recent study by the organization that said 10 out of 12 unhealthy, high-calorie meals meant for children came with toys. Citing a county study, he said 1 in 3 low-income, young children are overweight or obese. The problems could lead to diabetes and other diseases in adulthood.

Barragan, a stay-at-home mom who’s running a long shot campaign for mayor of San Jose, said the family eats out often at fast-food restaurants,
including McDonald’s, which offers Star Wars and the iCarly line of Happy Meal toys, and Jack in the Box, which offers the Yo Gabba Gabba toy figurines.

“A toy’s important,” she said while she and Jena left a Burger King in an unincorporated pocket of Santa Clara County just south of downtown San Jose, “because I can use it as a treat for when she does her homework.”

She’s not opposed to requiring more healthful meals, but she doesn’t want the prices to go up, either.

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“With the economy this low, I don’t think it’s a good time to raise prices,” Barragan said. “A lot of families would be hurt.”

I understand the importance of ending childhood obesity in this country. In fact that is why I started Healthy Moms. But as a firm believer in small government, freedom and liberty I think that Santa Clara County is doing this all wrong.

Fast food restaurants have been offering toys in their kids’ meals for decades. I agree with Barragan that toys in kids’ meals are a great tool for parents. I also use the toys to reward my kids for good behavior.

As parents it is our responsibility to teach our children about making healthy food choices. We don’t need “big brother” breathing down our necks and telling us what we can and can not do with our children. Popular fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr. and Burger King offer healthier alternatives for kids. It is up to us to decide what we allow our kids to eat and how often they can have that food item.

It is alright to treat your child to a fast food restaurants once or twice a month. Parents that allow their kids to eat fast food on a weekly or daily basis are only contributing to the childhood obesity problem.

What do you think? Do you think that toys should be banned from kids meals at fast food chains?

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