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1301089 tn?1290670171

And the #1 Reason Kids hate San Francisco-NO Happy Meals Toys

San Francisco considers banning Happy Meals toys
By TREVOR HUNNICUTT Associated Press Writer The Associated Press

Saturday, October 2, 2010 1:51 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco has a long history of bold public health and environmental stances, going after everything from plastic bags in grocery stores to cigarettes to sugary drinks.

The latest target: Ronald McDonald.

A proposed city ordinance would ban McDonald's from putting toys in Happy Meals unless it adds fruit and vegetable portions and limits calories. The proposal would apply to all restaurants, but the focus has been on McDonald's and its iconic Happy Meals.

Supervisor Eric Mar said he proposed the law to protect the health of his constituents, but McDonald's has waged an aggressive fight to block the measure. A battery of McDonald's Corp. executives showed up at city hall to argue that the legislation is a heavy-handed effort that threatens the company's decades-old business model and the free choice of its customers.

The proposed Happy Meal law is just the latest in a string of San Francisco ordinances aimed at regulating public health. The city recently expanded a law banning tobacco sales in pharmacies to include grocery stores and big-box stores that also have pharmacies.

Mayor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order earlier this year banning sweetened beverages like Coca Cola and Pepsi from vending machines on city property. Local leaders considered but ultimately abandoned laws recently that would have imposed a fee on businesses that sell sugary drinks and alcohol.

Newsom has slowed down in his support of some health measures after he was attacked by his opponent in next month's lieutenant governor's race, Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, for being the "food police." Newsom vetoed the alcohol and soda fees, and he's indicated he'll do the same for Ronald McDonald. The Board of Supervisors could overturn a veto but needs the votes of eight of 11 supervisors to do so.

Tony Winnicker, a Newsom spokesman, has said the mayor was opposed to the measures in part because of their negative impact on local businesses.

"The mayor is always open to argument and evidence about a better way — he's not ideological, he's not wedded to one approach," Winnicker said. "This is not the time to be considering new fees and taxes that would put San Francisco at a disadvantage to other counties around the state."

Mar said he expected his Happy Meal bill to pass out of committee Monday and receive a vote by the full Board of Supervisors later this month.

McDonald's vice president for nutrition and menu strategy, Karen Wells, said that denying a toy to a child would undermine the authority of parents to decide what their children should eat and would be difficult to execute.

"It's different from what we're doing today and different from what we've done for 25 years, successfully," Wells said.

Responded Supervisor Sophie Maxwell in an exasperated voice, "Just because it's different does not make it necessarily difficult. I mean, McDonald's is an amazing institution. It's been around for many years ... because it's able to change and to adapt to new circumstances and new things that people are eating so I think I have a lot more confidence in McDonald's, I guess, than you do."

Cynthia Goody, McDonald's nutrition director, said there was no evidence that childhood obesity would be reduced by requiring a fruit or vegetable with all meals.

In response, a supervisor asked what mix of foods would lower childhood obesity. Goody said she would need to conduct more research to provide an answer.

The Happy Meal ordinance is not all surprising given San Francisco's famously liberal leanings.

"San Francisco has a reputation — and it's well deserved — of being a very progressive city," said Alex Clemens, founder of Barbary Coast Consulting, a local political communications firm. "With that comes naturally, hand in hand, a reliance on government to encourage thoughtful change — that's just tradition."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original Article can be found at:

© 2010 Charter. All Rights Reserved
15 Responses
377493 tn?1356505749
Hasn't this already happened?  I don't mean the banning of the Happy Meal Toys (that's ridiculous), but the offering choices of fruit etc.?  Our McDonalds here offers things for kids like apple slices, etc. that they can get as an option in their Happy Meals. We have calorie counts to (at least I think McDonalds does that, many of our other fast food restaurants do). Then of course it's up to the parents to help their children make good choices.  I am always pro health, but this is rather silly.    The options should be there, but not forced upon.  Then again, there are parents out there who seem to think that a steady diet of Pizza and Happy Meals makes for good nutrition.  
Avatar universal
It started with cigarettes. It was legal to smoke, then they mounted a campaign against them, telling you where and when you could use them, raised the prices, went after the cigarette companies seeking compensation for smokers, and then raised the prices so bad you are gouged if you use them. Same in many cities with alcohol. I said a long time ago that it was a can of worms, and now this. Look for the same thing to happen with this kind of stuff. Once you start losing rights to do something legal its a ball rolling down a steep hill. Funny tho, no one had a problem with loss of cigarettes rights. As many children are obese as there are people who smoke, and them both being bad for you, what else did we think was going to happen? The whole reason my kids want to go to mcdonalds is for that toy, many times they dont even eat after getting the toy, so if we see a medical epidemic I guess this is how they handle it now?
535822 tn?1443980380
More Policing ..surely its up to the parents I see this as more government control of how we live, I think there s a lot of reversing going to be going on after NOV
Avatar universal
I think the bottom line is that if the parents were doing their job, you would not see the epidemic of obesity, so you can spread the blame across the board on this one as well. Kids live on junk food these days, partly because the parents work and are too tired to prepare home cooked meals and partly because they simply are to lazy to cook other than processed boxed foods or eating out. I noticed my grandson who was raised on carrot sticks, and celery and grapes, etc, to this day will not eat cake or pie. So some food for thought there?
Avatar universal
And I would be willing to bet everything I own, that these kids will still be fat after Novemvber, in other words the problem will still exist, wanna bet?
535822 tn?1443980380
I agree with that, I see latin children a lot where I live they are nearly all very overweight, so I have come to the conclusion that a lot is genetic aswell, one little 7 year old is going to be obese if they dont do something about it, I have seen him eating chips, and cookies , so I carefully said he could use some exercise, with their poor dog who is shut in the yard , they must have listened as now  they regularly are out walking the dog...I do believe  that more than policing us and getting government involved that some extra programmes through school and after school of exercise is the way to go.The media could help parents more by putting on walking programmes and encouraging working out..and make it fun ...leave the Happy meals alone I love em ...
377493 tn?1356505749
I most definately don't agree with policing what people eat, or dictating what they eat.  Teko, I know what you mean about the cost and taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, etc.  The thing is these are not really deterents.  If people want to smoke or are addicted to it, they are going to do it.

I do agree with properly educating people on health risks associated with various things.  For example, a Canadian pack of cigarettes has a huge warning (and I mean half or more of the packaging) with big warnings such as "cigarettes can kill you" and graphic images of cancerous lungs, etc. Now, probably doesn't work to well in deterring those that already smoke, but it's more aimed at getting young people to not start.  It's not a bad thing at all.   You see posters up in liquor stores and bars warning pregnant women that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.  Again, a positive.  But to make it illegal...now a line has been crossed.

I see food choices the same way.  Educate people...provide easy to read labels so people can make a good choice.  I like that fast food and other restaurants are providing things like calorie counts, cholesterol, etc.  However, we can't make it illegal for people to make these choices, just educate them on what the true content is.

It's ridiculous to take away a McDonalds Happy Meal toy.  Nothing wrong with going to McDonalds..the problem lies when it's every day.  Same as drinking or anything else...nothing wrong with a few drinks. The danger lies in continuous drinking.  Educate people, but don't take away the choices.  Its a big difference in my mind.

I agree with encouraging families to excercise more and do it in a fun way.  Kids spend way to much time these days in front of TV's and video games.  Nothing wrong with either activity..the problem lies when it's all they do.

I agree Teko, removing Happy Meal Toys won';t solve the problem..educating parents is the only way.
1301089 tn?1290670171
We need to educate people on health matters BUT freedom of choice should always rule.  I don't need a nanny or a nanny state.  And I don't think most people do.  San Francisco is turning into a municipal nanny.  No Thanks!

And my kids are all physically active and none are overweight.  Fruit is and always has been readily available while sugar is limited.  But I don't police them.  I'd prefer a child even slightly overweight over an anorexic any day of the week.  A healthy body image is essential.
535822 tn?1443980380
the governement is just simply flexing its muscles and saying ' look guys I can tell you what to do with your children, what to feed them , their schooling,dont give them fat, salt,Mrs Obama has spoken  .its the Law just do it if anyone thinks thats okay well sorry thats really nutty ...
Avatar universal
Well, there's northern California in a nut shell.  Ya know, San Francisco probably has a few more things that should be higher up on the priority list.  Again, do-gooders sticking their noses in opther peoples business.  It really ***** when do-gooders step in to do our thinking for us.

Limiting of choices is whats kind of concerned me with the new Obama care.  I'd like to have the time to sit and try to read an unbiased report on the damn thing, but what is it...1500-1600 pages???  If they can tell you which doctor you can see and what treatments are priority, when are they going to tell you what to eat?

Personally, I am not a big fruit eater.  I like peaches, pears, bananas and some berries.  I am diabetic, so I limit all starches and simple sugars. But the clincher is....I want to live longer, so I do this by choice.  My doctor told me one time, "You keep coming in and paying, and I'll keep telling you what you need to be doing to improve your health".  I took that as a subtle hint and got to work.  Ive changed my lifestyle.

And really, if were talking about Mc Donalds, toys and healthier alternatives......no offense Mc D's, but a quater pounder with cheese has ...I think 2 days worth of sodium.  French fries with little salt are a healthier alternative....  Its a damn choice and I am not please with anyone making choices for me.  (I eat Mc Donalds from time to time because I cant help it.....)
Avatar universal
First of all, there is not a nationwide ban on McDonalds, and per the article:

A proposed city ordinance according to the article, Supervisor Eric Mar said he proposed the law to protect the health of his constituents,

Mar said he expected his Happy Meal bill to pass out of committee Monday and receive a vote by the full Board of Supervisors later this month

So what does this have to do with Michelle Obama? It sounds like another political football to me, and will b defeated.

The problem is not with McDonalds, the problem is with parents clogging their kids arteries which will be causing high blood pressure, heart disease etc. Which is a very big health problem when you stop to think about it. And dont forget that bad food is always cheaper than good food, which is another problem especially in a bad econemy. But the real message is, what the health consequences are not only for the obese parents now, but the obese children in the near future. We are killing our kids, and something has to happen. Getting rid of places like McDonalds is not going to happen nor should it. It is ultimately up to the city and their residents.
Avatar universal
In my previous post, I mentioned that Northern California is full of do-gooders.  I didnt mean to offend anyone, and I a sure they have their fair share of bad guys too.  I had something happen years ago amongst a group of friends and I thought I'd share.  (Theses are the people that want to call the shots for us)

I had recently come back from a hunting trip. (I hunt for food, not trophy....but if I see a big one I'll take hm and eat him too)  A female friend who was a bit of a "free-spirit" said something along the lines of...."how could you kill one of Gods creatures?".  I happily replied that hunting was a tradition within my family, a bit of a rite of passage, and the best way to provide some of natures purest protein that hasnt been infected with anti-biotics and steroids and everything else you can think of.

My friend then stated that the animals in which I hunt have done nothing to me, so why go kill them?  Again I replied, because of the protein....and mentioned the protein and added that hunting isnt for everyone, but I enjoy it and its a good way to spend some time with family and friends.  (This girl was a self proclaimed vegan)  She went on to complain that the beef and chicken industry is horribly out of line and inhumane.  She couldnt understand why anyone would support any industry where animals are harmed in the name of food.  

I laughed my *** off, then made a couple of points.  "The beef and poultry industry are multi billion dollar industries....its not like they are raisng all of those cattle and chicken for 3 or 4 people.  Secondly, processing today is 100 times more humane that it used to be, and it has to be in order to keep up with market demands.....if you dont like beef...dont eat it."  She went on to proclaim herself as a lover and protecter of all animals.......then I noticed it.  She was wearing leather boots, a leather belt, and a sheep skin lined coat.  When I asked her about those items, she informed me that I was a typical red neck a-hole, she bagan to cry and left.....

These are some of the people that want to help you and I today.  Let me make my choices, you can make yours, we dont need to comment on either behaviors.....and we can all move along rather nicely.
1301089 tn?1290670171
Well Said!  I believe in freedom of choice.  If you choose to eat unhealthy food on a regular basis, well, you're going to pay for it.  But NO ONE has the right to impose their standards on another.  To do so is oppression.
Avatar universal
Freedom of choice is part of what makes this country so great.  We do have choices!  That cannot be said for the rest of the world.  And the simple fact of the matter is, when we make a choice we get to either reap the rewards or pay for it.

The abundance and the availability of fast food could be considered part of the problem, but it comes down to the individuals choice in the end.  And honestly, I think diet is only part of the problem with childhood obesity.  In our community, Phys. Ed is all but removed from the school day. Its not even offered in high school anymore, and it was 5 days a week when I went to high school.... And its been proven that there are academic benefits to physical activity during the school day.  As per usual, we've gone against fact and have decided to make more cirriculum....make our kids smarter in order to catch up to the world.  Fine, but at what expense?
1301089 tn?1290670171
No PE???  That's bad.  We still have compulsory PE or go into Athletics at all grade levels.  Except no Athletics in elementary school.  If my kids aren't doing a sport, they get to take PE.  They prefer sports.  Along with at least 2 AP courses, there is no end to the complaining.  Too bad.  So sad.

Another problem I have with this plan is that it's government interference in private business.  As long as a product is not dangerous, such as shards of glass in ice cream, government has no business regulating marketing decisions in cases such as this.  Now if they were offering a free lap dance with every Happy Meal, well, yea I could see it.  Except the drive through line would be backed up 24/7 with all the dads!!!!
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