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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

San Francisco bans toys in kids meals



happymeal.jpgNo more Happy Meals in Frisco. Call them Healthy Meals. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors this week voted in favor of an ordinance to limit toy giveaways in children's meals that have excessive calories, sodium and fat, making San Francisco the first city in the nation to take such action. The restaurants can still offer a toy, but the meal has to be lower in calories and sodium and have at least one fruit or vegetable serving. It will take effect Dec. 1.

What was interesting about this battle was the strange befellows. More than a dozen local restaurants supported the measure, as did an eclectic mix of public health professionals, educators, parents, organizations, small businesses, community advocates, and faith leaders.  McDonald's and other big chains spared no expense in opposing the measure, which made some of the skeptics point out that the aggressive lobbying shows how critical toy giveaways are in peddling fast food to kids.

The Happy Meal, which came along in 1979, revolutionized the fast food industry. "Happy Meals proved that you could actually 'brand' a meal and make kids harass their parents for it," said Adam Hanft, president of Hanft Raboy & Partners, a New York advertising and marketing firm.

So what do you think about such a ban? Do your kids beg you for a meal at a fast food joint based on what toy or hot movie chotsky they are offering with kids meals?

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 7:07am]


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