(NaturalNews) San Francisco has become the first U.S. city to crack down on the dubious practice of fast food companies luring children into eating unhealthy meals by giving away gimmicky toys. "Our children are sick. Rates of obesity in San Francisco are disturbingly high, especially among children of color," said San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, the sponsor of the measure, in a press conference.
The new law, which goes into effect December, 2011, would only allow toys to be given away with "healthy" children's meals. That's defined as a meal under 600 calories that includes fruits and vegetables but not a beverage with excess sugar (such as a soda). McDonald's Happy Meals obviously do not fit this definition of a healthy meal.
Big bucks to dangle toys in front of children
According to a Reuters report, McDonald's spent over half a billion dollars advertising and giving away toys in 2006. This is obviously money spent with a purpose -- and the purpose is to keep children begging for more Happy Meals so they can get their hands on more toys. Across the industry, promotional spending on children's toys to promote junk food tops $1.6 billion a year, reports Reuters.
That's $1.6 billion spent in trying to persuade children to eat factory-fabricated animal products and nutritionally-depleted fast foods. Can you imagine what this must be contributing to childhood obesity? What about diabetes and heart disease later in life?
San Francisco understands that feeding junk food to your children is not a smart way to have a healthy city (or state, or nation for that matter). I actually admire the city's willingness to start clamping down on these toy enticements. There's a point at which local communities and cities need to send a message to corporate America: "You will NOT be allowed to harm our children any longer!"
I just wish more cities had the courage to stand up to the powerful fast food chains and say enough is enough. Yes, you can sell food. Or you can sell toys. But you can't use toys to trick children into asking for food that we now know is strongly contributing to an epidemic of obesity and disease.
In a perfect society, of course, it would be parents who would say no to their children and stop buying Happy Meals with toys in them in the first place. But health-oriented parenting is another article altogether.
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Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.
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