Officials in one California county have banned toys from being included as part of any meal high in calories, salt, sugar or fat -- a direct challenge to the McDonald's Happy Meal and its competitors.
The proposal adopted today (April 27) means the popular children's meal will no longer be allowed to be sold there with the traditional toy included. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors ban applies to any kids' meal with more than 485 calories, more than 600 mg of salt or high amounts of sugar or fat. The county cited a study that showed the overwhelming majority of unhealthy meals marketed to children include a toy as an inducement.
The proposal is part of an ongoing national fight against childhood obesity. It could mean that to get a toy, the meal would need to include apples (McDonald's offers "Apple Dippers" and Burger King offers "Apple Fries" that are just thin apple sticks).
Santa Clara county reports that nearly one in every four 7th-, 9th- and 11th-grader in the county is either obese or overweight. From 2007 through 2008, the county's Child Health and Disability Prevention Program found that one in three toddlers, ages 2 to 5, were either obese or overweight. Children who struggle with obesity are at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes, according to the proposed ordinance.
McDonald's Happy Meals must be toy-free in California county