Unhappy meals: California county bans toys in kids’ meals

Happy meals could be going the way of helmetless bike rides, candy cigarettes and Ring Dings in lunchboxes if a recent measure in parts of Santa Clara County, California is any indication.

Yesterday, county officials approved a measure to ban the use of toys to attract children to meals with high levels of salt, fat or sugar in the area. In order to retain the ability to shower children with cheap trinkets, restaurants must comply with nutritional guidelines laid down by the county. A representative from the Board of Supervisors spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the measure:

“This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children’s’ love of toys” to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. “This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.”

While doctors’ groups and public health advocates support the initiative, small business owners, some parents and toy collectors do not. (A point was raised that the toy comps were often used to supplement Christmas for less fortunate kids.) But the measure really isn’t about Santa Clara County- officials hope the idea will catch on in other areas, too.

What do you think? Is this just another Nanny State intrusion, or a necessary step in stemming the tide of obese kids?