Banning Happy Meals: Good idea for Phila. area?

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A Happy Meal box and toy are shown outside of a McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco, where lawmakers on Nov. 2, 2010, passed an ordinance aimed at using toys to market high-calorie foods to children.

It's all about the children.

Gotta protect them ... from Happy Meals.

At least in San Francisco.

The Board of Supervisors there is basically telling fast food restaurants, no fair using toys to sell cheeseburgers and fries to girls and boys.

Poll

Should Happy Meals be banned?

Hello Kitty makes kids fat? Megamind controls their minds?

A first-of-its-kind ordinance plans to ban, starting at the end of 2011, free playthings being included with meals loaded with calories, sugar and fat.

Further, servings of fruits and vegetables would be required to win a thumbs-up.

So while most Happy Meals fall below the 600-calorie requirement, none would qualify.

"The ordinance requires a 1/2 cup of fruit and 3/4 cup of vegetables, at the same meal. None of our Happy Meal bundles currently offer both," said McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud.

Potatoes, pickles and ketchup apparently don't count.

"We're part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice," explained Supervisor Eric Mar to the Los Angeles Times. ". . . The epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low-income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate."

Some might see overreaching by the Left Coast Contingent of the Nanny State's Fun Police.

Has "justice" come to mean "just this" - as in "eat just this"? Are appetites being a salted?

Actually, sodium levels weren't addressed.

Happy Meals vary greatly in calorie counts, from 380 calories with 12 grams of fat for McNuggets with apple dippers and apple juice to 700 calories and 27 grams of fat for a cheeseburger with fries and chocolate milk.

That's about half a day's calories for an 8-year-old, a third for a teen, according to the American Heart Association.

So, what do you think?

Should the Philly area try to catch up to San Francisco? Put the freeze on cheeseburgers? Deny fries to small fries?

Should Philly go further? Tell grown-ups what to eat as well?

Or should little consumers get to consume whatever food they want and get Transformers, too?

Comment, or vote in our poll.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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