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A serious move is afoot to force fast-food giants to make kids meals more nutritionally viable if they want to sell them with kid-luring toys.
In San Francisco, newly proposed legislation would ban toys from most kids meals sold at McDonald’s, Burger King and other chains unless the meals meet more stringent calorie and sodium limits. The legislation also would require fruit or veggies in each meal.
The $179 billion fast-food industry is watching with intense interest — aware that menu-labeling requirements that started locally in New York City several years ago have since been copied regionally and will become federal law in 2014 under the health care act.
Kids meals rank among fast food’s big sales catalysts. Although kids meal sales are declining — because budget-minded parents sometimes opt for dollar menu items instead — the industry sold about $5.5 billion worth last year, researcher NPD Group reports.
Nothing gets kids more excited about eating out than a kids meal with a toy. That’s what 36% of kids under age 6 say they like best about eating out, NPD reports. That compares with 16% who like the food best.
“There’s no fundamental conflict between a healthy meal and a happy meal,” says Rajiv Bhatia, environmental health director for San Francisco.
He says chains could easily conform by making relatively small changes in ingredients or portion size, reducing the number of french fries, or replacing fries with veggies, fruit or salad.
But McD’s already HAS that option, nitwit. Oh, that’s right. This isn’t really about “options” for leftist nanny staters in CA. It’s about YOU having to conform to THEIR standards of what is “good and wholesome” for kids to eat. Instead of you having the option of getting fries OR apple slices in your child’s meal, or choose milk over a soda, restaurants MUST ONLY offer fruit or salad. And as far as portion size goes, has anyone checked out a Happy Meal lately? The portion size seems just fine to me.
And I’d like to ask questions of any parents out there who might be reading. When you buy a Happy Meal for your child, do they even eat the whole thing? It’s been my experience when sitting in a McD’s that the kids eat about a third of the meal, and spend the rest of their time either playing with the toy, fidgeting with a napkin, or are wanting to go out and play on the McD’s outdoor playset. In fact, the “eating the third of the meal” thing doesn’t just apply to Happy Meals. Everytime I go into any restaurant, whether it is via a fast food establishment or a more “fine dining” establishment, the kids rarely sit still long enough in their seats to eat their full meal. Is that your experience, too?
In reality, what places like SF and Santa Clara County, CA want it to appear as though they are doing something about the “child obesity” problem and they do so by trying to control your choices about your kids eating options – in the true liberal fashion of wanting to “feel” like they’re doing something good “for the children.” Some people might not think it’s a big deal. “Hey, it’s just a Happy Meal” but you know as well as I do, that if you start giving this “I know better for you how your child should eat” crowd an inch, they will take miles. Heck, they are starting to do this with adults, too!
It’s one thing to limit options in a public school environment where the kids have to make the choices themselves as to what to eat at the lunch counter – and of course states are rapidly coming to the mindset that if they’re going to feed kids they’re going to offer more healthy options, but it’s another thing to take the control out of the hands of parents when they and their children walk into a restaurant to place an order.
What do you think?
(Photo hat tip: Eat, Drink, and Be)