I’m Not Happy About San Francisco’s Happy Meal Law

November 5, 2010

Happy Meal

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is taking the happy out of Happy Meals.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know kids need to eat healthier and I’m all for it. But to propose legislation that takes away toys accompanying restaurant and fast food meals a city board deems “unhealthy” just isn’t right.

A little on the proposal according to the San Francisco Chronicle and ParentDish.com:

On Tuesday, San Francisco became the first city in the country to give preliminary approval to an ordinance that would limit toy giveaways in fast food children’s meals that have excessive calories, sodium and fat. If a restaurant wants to give kids toys, the meals must include servings of fruits or vegetables. A final vote is expected next week, and the law is scheduled to go into effect Dec.1.

Here’s why its not the right move:

If you’re going to create a law that ensures meals are healthier for children, do just that. Don’t nibble around the edges and take away toys thinking it’s going to change the child’s eating habits.You want fries, Junior? Then no Scooby Doo for you!

Honestly, who does this truly hurt? McDonald’s or the kid?  McDonald’s already offers healthier options with a happy meal, so what about the major role parents play in influencing what their kids consume?

As a mom, I would rather be the one to say what my child is allowed to eat if we’re dining out vs. a city ordinance dictating it. And don’t see anyone banning the high-caloric items adults can choose to consume at any given restaurant or fast food joint. So now Junior has to eat apples while his mom chows down on a large fry? The Board of Supervisors missed the mark with this proposal and instead it looks like a bunch of bullies.

As an alternative, lets spend money educating parents and kids about making healthier choices and being more physically active. Let’s encourage restaurants to continue offering  healthier fare with incentives and tax breaks or laws that really do mandate good-for-you menus and portion sizes. Let’s change the mentality about eating out and go back to looking at it as a treat instead of a necessity. Hell, let’s see what happens when we use smaller plates.

These things won’t change people’s eating habits overnight, but I’ve got to assume it would make more of an impact than telling some 7-year-old girl she won’t get a cheaply made Shrek doll because she ordered fries, but Daddy will buy her an ice cream after dinner to make up for it.