California county bans toys in Happy Meals

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Santa Clara County, California became the first to ban toys in fast food meals for children. As CNN reports, county officials voted 3 to 2 to ban the plastic toys in any meals with more than 485 calories. County supervisor Ken Yeager said the decision was made in an effort to prevent “restaurants from preying on children’s love of toys to peddle high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium kids’ meals.” Those in favor of the decision—which bans restaurants from including toys in meal packages of more than 485 calories, or that more than 600 mg of sodium, more than 35% of total calories from fat or 10% from added sugar—say that it will help combat childhood obesity. (Most McDonald’s Happy Meal options fit those parameters, for example.)

While high-calorie low-nutrition fast food, added sugar and excess sodium are increasingly in the sights of public health officials who are working to reduce Americans’ consumption of products that increase our risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and other health ailments, inevitably there are many people who wonder at what point it isn’t the government’s business. Unsurprisingly the California Restaurant Association ranks among those who think the county ordinances overreaches. In efforts to dissuade county officials from imposing the ban, the association recently ran a series of ads in a local newspapers, CNN reports. One read: “Who Made Politicians the Toy Police?”