When the San Francisco city council recently enacted the so-called Happy Meal ban, prohibiting toys in fast food meals that didn't meet certain health standards, there was debate on how effective the ban would be in pushing fast food joints to offer healthier options for kids. The move was widely heralded for removing some of the allure of meals for kids that are high in fat and calories.
However, the San Francisco ban is now dead in the water due to the veto power of Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Newsom said that the decision power of what's healthy and what isn't lies in the hands of parents -- not legislators. Parents can make healthy choices in the drive-thru lane, he says, without a ban. So, what do parents think?
Some parents are outraged, saying that the veto undoes what was a step in the right direction. "I think the mayor's veto on the ban is irresponsible. [The ban] does not limit the parent's choice as to what foods they can buy for their children, but gives an incentive for the (sometimes weary) parent to make a better choice when their child is asking for the toy," says Michele Samuels, mom of four and grandmother of one.
Samuels says that the ban would have incentivized restaurants to lighten up their offerings. "I would love to see the ban in place for a trial year (starting from when the stores start offering the toys with a healthier menu). See if the behavior changes and people start buying the healthier meals with the toys or not," she suggested.
However, other parents don't think the government should be involved in such matters, creating anything like the McDonald's ban. "As a mother of three young children, I'm very conscious about healthy eating and healthy living. However, I'm not convinced that any government body should be allowed to ban the toys that accompany children's meals simply because they don't consider the meals healthy enough," says Michaela Tokarski. Letting governments regulate fast food like this would be a 'slippery slope.'"
For other parents, the ban would have been disastrous. "My twelve year old is tall for his age; he is around 5'9"...The only thing that kept him from wanting the meals with the larger amounts of food was the toy! I wish he still wanted the toy so that he wouldn't order from the regular menu," says Susan Crossan, mom of three. Crossan also points out that sometimes, fast food is the only option.What do you think? Did the mayor do the right thing? Share your opinion in the comments section below.
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