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No More Happy Meals in New York City?

No More Happy Meals in New York City?

It happened in San Francisco and now it could happen in New York:

No more Happy Meals.

Yes, just as San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to ban most of McDonald’s Happy Meals last year, a New York city councilman, Leroy G. Comrie, Jr., has introduced a bill for toys to be banned from fast food meals unless their fat, salt and sugar content is reduced. From the New York Times City Room blog:

Mr. Comrie’s bill, which he is to introduce in the City Council on Wednesday, would restrict toys to meals that contain fewer than 500 calories and 600 milligrams of sodium, and in which less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat (making exceptions for nuts, seeds, peanut butter or other nut-based butters). In addition, the meal would have to contain a half a cup of fruit or vegetables or one serving of whole-grain products.

So you know: A meal with a cheeseburger, French fries and low-fat chocolate milk has 700 calories and 1,060 milligrams of sodium, while one with Chicken McNuggets and apple slices, low-fat caramel dipping sauce and apple juice has 380 calories and 460 milligrams of sodium.

Corrie’s proposal is actually more stringent than the San Francisco one, which called for fewer than 600 calories and 640 milligrams of sodium in those meals that come in brightly decorated paper boxes with little plastic figurines of characters from whatever is the latest movie or toy trend.

Corrie cites his personal experience of raising his two sons, now 17 and 13, as motivation for his proposal:

“Both are fast-food aficionados, and it’s my fault…I’m not healthy. I’m the typical parent with no time and limited options, so you’re grabbing whatever is going to make your child happy. My wife has yelled at me repeatedly for grabbing Happy Meals.”

Corrie notes that he himself is “seriously overweight.”

McDonald’s is, surprise surprise, not pleased about the proposal. Says one McDonald’s executive for the New York region:

“Taking away toys from kids’ meals won’t solve childhood obesity.”

“Our Happy Meals make it easier for families to choose the right foods in portions just for kids…We provide options for our customers and trust them to make the decisions that are right for their families. Politicians should, too.”

Well, sure, one does always have the option of not buying fast food for one’s child. 

It could be argued that Happy Meals actually make it harder for families to “choose the right foods in portions just for kids.” Amid all the colorful packaging and the plastic gizmos that kids clamor for over a rather dry hamburger patty and spongy-crisp fries, do you ever just want to ask, where’s the beef?

Previous Care2 Coverage

San Francisco Says No to Happy Meals


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Photo by franzconde.

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12:26AM PDT on Aug 17, 2012

I hope it spreads world wide.

2:10PM PDT on May 19, 2011

Thanks, can't help but think it's really up to the parents.

5:25AM PDT on May 19, 2011

Delana, you state that your kids' toybox is filled with those Happy Meals toys - and you'd rather they didn't get those toys?

Remind me again, who actually purchased those Happy Meals, with toys, for them?

4:27AM PDT on May 19, 2011

I think you can ask them not to put a toy in it guys.

2:57AM PDT on Apr 28, 2011

Well, I like this idea... :) Fast food is not for kids...

12:58AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

Or why not just have educational toys instead? Once Wendy's was giving away small color books or something.

Or how about using those small sand pals with shovels as the containers AND as the toy? Less waste, and then it's also an outdoor toy to use at the beach, camping or other activities, and so could help work off the calories.

then add choices like bottled water that could be used as a scoop or water carrier. Anyway, make other adjustments to serve a vegetarian option, it would be better.

2:33PM PDT on Apr 14, 2011

I say do away with the toys PERIOD. Then the kids won't be bugging Mom or Dad or a "Happy Meal" and woud have to eat whatever you give them or go hungry!!

5:50AM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

My kids toybox is ful of little plastic toys from happymeals that never get played with so yes this is a strate it won't fix the problem but it will help.

3:02PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

One way to use happy meals to the advantage of children and parents is to make children EARN them. It could be a reward linked to school performance, complying with chores.

Another method could be that children could get marks or points for every additional 15 or 30 minute exercise, for every additional piece of fruit children consume, for each extra serving of salad. The posibilities are endless. Of course this would required for parents to take on responsibility.

12:34PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

Fast food just be illegal. Disgusting stuff.

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