San Francisco Says “No” to Happy Meals

Happy Meals are off the menu in San Francisco.  The City of San Francisco has declared war on Ronald McDonald by banning Happy Meals, a favorite with most American kids. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently banned restaurants from giving toys with meals that do not meet fundamental nutritional standards for fat, calories and sodium.  That includes the Happy Meal, which is packed with fat and salt.  The legislation’s supporters say it will promote healthy eating and aid in the fight against childhood obesity.  According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years.

According to Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the bill, “Our children are sick.  Rates of obesity in San Francisco are disturbingly high, especially among children of color.  This is a challenge to the restaurant industry to think about children’s health first and join the wide range of local restaurants that have already made this commitment.”  The New York Times agrees, noting that approximately 30 percent of San Francisco’s fifth graders are overweight.

Santa Clara County, located to the south of San Francisco, banned Happy Meals last April.

According to the ban – which will become effective in December 2011 – San Francisco restaurants will be allowed to include toys in meals that contain less than 600 calories and 640 mg of sodium.  Less than 35 percent of the calories can come from fat; less than 10 percent can come from saturated fat.

Not surprisingly, McDonald’s described the bill as misguided.  “It’s not what our customers want,” said Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for the company, in a statement.  “Nor is it something they asked for.”

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