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Toys banned for 'unhealthy' fast-food meals

Original post made on Apr 27, 2010

Tuesday was a sad day for the Happy Meal. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to ban toys and other prizes from "unhealthy" children's meals served at restaurants in unincorporated areas of the county.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 6:13 PM

Comments (25)

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Posted by wavering dem
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm

This move to ban Happy Meals is one more example of the Nanny State WASTING OUR TAX DOLLARS with no compunction. Ken Yeager, you are ridiculous and the supervisors that voted with you are, too. You should be voted out and never allowed to work in government again since you don't appreciate the ROLE of government. We are in a financial crisis of previously unseen proportions and you are diddling valuable time away on - baloney. If you can't provide constructive leadership, step down. Just banning everything you believe is "bad" is a worse evil. Your action is insulting.

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Posted by Health Consciousness
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 27, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I am in full support of Ken Yeager. Excellent guidelines (required or otherwise) to help prevent obesity in children ( and adults for that matter). Like seatbelts, helmets, we must also help our children stay healthy as a society. It benefits everyone.

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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm

If the BOS really wants to do something about childhood obesity, let's put money back into the schools for PE, education, etc. Creating laws and more laws will only create a society of robots where we are not allow to think for ourselves. I am not in agreement to give up my right as a parent!

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Posted by Pat
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 28, 2010 at 7:08 am

As an early childhood educator I fully support Yeager. As far as I am concerned this country needs more "nannyism". Parents need as much support, training and education in child development as we can give them. We all pay the price for poor parenting. Don't believe me?- take a look at the upbringings of the incarcerated. I'm also glad to see something is being done to prevent these fast food corporations from using despicable marketing techniques to sell "food" that is undermining the health of children.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2010 at 7:27 am

I feel the board is approaching the problem incorrectly. We want the children's parents, not the children, to change their attitudes. Instead of removing toys from fast food, cereals etc., more should be done to alert parents of the importance of good nutrition and how it could affect their family's health. An occasional meal at a fastfood restaurant isn't going to make a significant difference in the children's lives but their everyday nutrition, which includes school lunches along with mom's cooking could. How will toys in fast-food affect how the children eat everyday; a mom/dad who works and uses fast food in place of preparing meals for her family will continue to handle her meal tasks the same way, with or without toys. Making these parents more aware of the nutritional value of the meals they're buying should be more effective in combating the increase of obsesity in our children.

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Posted by Big Al
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2010 at 8:07 am

Better cancel all the contracts supplying schools as well with fat-loaded lunches, free or reduced or otherwise. Terrible examples of good eating habits and choices are being set there.

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Posted by John Doe
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 28, 2010 at 8:51 am

umm do we really need county supervisors to act like big brother? I think Parents are smart enough to choose for our kids I don't need Govt to tell me....

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Posted by FatBoy
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm

It's one thing to have support but this is government coercion. Amazing how some people think they know what's best for others and cant persuade them with reason but must resort to force. Shame on our supervisors.

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Posted by Seldon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm

On the other hand, I recall the same comments of an overreaching government on seatbelt requirements, but that law has proven to be effective in saving lives and continues to do so. This law does not force a choice on food selection, but rather removes an incentive that influences decision making. It's no different than banning TV smoking ads.

As a parent, I've seen the useful life of these "toys" in the hands of my children. Somewhere between the acquisition of food and 5 minutes after finishing the meal, the toy is already of no interest, and bound for the garbage. Considering the amount of energy, material and human effort that goes into the manufacturing, transportation, and distribution of these items, I find their value to society and to my children specifically, to be less than zero.

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Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

Is there a parent left on the planet who thinks eating at McDonald's or Burger King or wherever is "healthy"? Getting rid of the toy won't help them. Why can't the supervisors do something more useful, like explaining to me why the hell we keep talking about a BART extension that we still don't have and yet continues to draw down Measure A funds from transport that's already in place.

That being said, I'm all for getting rid of the toys because I'm tired of receiving junk toys that have no useful lifetime for either the parent or the child.

Also, don't forget that there's an election not far off to kick the bums out, if you don't like the nannying. Or is telling someone to vote "nannying"?

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Posted by steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Why stop here? Why not ban fast food all together. what about regulating how much ice cream, liquor, and red meat we are permitted to consume? Heck why not just mandate diet and exercise requirements?

There is absolutely no doubt that obesity is the cause of many illnesses (e.g. Diabetes, coronary disease etc) and contributes significantly to healthcare costs. Plus fat people are just not pleasant to look at - I know that isn't PC to say, but we all know its true.

I say fine anyone with a body fat % of greater than 15% for men and 25% for women. Subsequent violations will result in internment on a government run fat farm

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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2010 at 2:46 pm

This is absolutely ridiculous. Happy Meal toys (in unincorporated parts of the county) are a drop in the bucket of the obesity problem in this country. Especially when you can drive a mile down the road to the next McDonald's that isn't in unincorporated county land. If anyone really cared to affect real change they would start by adding daily PE back into classes, educating kids and parents on proper nutrition, and overhauling the school lunch program. If you have kids in the MVWSD you have seen the absolute CRAP that is offered as a school lunch. I am shocked that school lunches are worse now than they were when I was in public school here in the 70s. Needless to say, my kids don't eat them.

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a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Whats next? Are we going to allow the government to come into our homes and tells us what we can and can't do? Banning toys from "Happy Meals" is NOT the way to control obesity, that starts in the HOME... Have any of you seen the children walking down the street in your own neighborhoods? Most of them severely obese before the age of 10 and NOT because of toys in happy meals! Their weight problem is from obese parents stuffing their children with greasy fried foods, refried beans and rice, with home made tortillas, ZERO vegitables or fruit, a can of soda instead of a glass of milk and junk food snacks til bedtime, which is usually after 10pm.

I support a toy in my kids "Happy Meals", we don't eat fast food often but when we do they look forward to a toy treat instead of candy or ice cream, how dare Ken Yeager or ANY government body presume to control what "I" decide as a parent what is alright for MY children, or myself for that matter!!! NONE of my children are even slightly obese and have extremely healthy diets, and for this government agency to go over my head -- PISSES ME OFF!!!

If no one else is as upset as I am then it's time you ALL take a good look at what's coming next, because before you know it we will all wake up in a communist country and it will be OUR faults for allowing them to take such control!

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Posted by jane
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 28, 2010 at 3:48 pm

A parent can always schoose to buy only the toy at a fast food eatery without buying the kid's meal. There was a time when it was standard for children to work in factories, and government stepped it to make life for children safer. There was a time when diptheria and whopping cough and polio endangered children, and the government stepped in to make life safer for children. Now the childhood obesity is costing society so much money I appreciate that this disease is being recognized and that dialogue is finally happening and that government recognizes that obesity is endangering children now and for their futures. If nothing else, this one small act by government may get people to start examining the pressures that advertisers put on families and why fast foods are so cheap and enticing.

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Posted by Seldon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 28, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Agreed. The significance in some laws is not in their breadth or scope, but that they set a precedent, or highlight an issue that needs to be addressed in our society. This may not be the perfect law, but it may spark the beginnings of an answer to unhealthy eating habits we have in this country.

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Posted by havadane
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm

What is really going on?? My poor Country, where have you gone?? Why are we allowing government to rule on every little thing in our lives?? What happened to personal responsibility?? If a parent doesn't want their child to eat this food, then it is up to them to have the "guts" to say, "NO" to their child. We have a way bigger problem in our society if parents are becoming so weak that they can't say, "no" to a Happy Meal. Hey, by the way, why isn't the governement banning those beautifully, artistic bottles that alcohol comes in. I don't even drink, but am tempted to buy vodka for the beautiful bottle. Where is the out cry where alcohol is concerned?? What about how all of this affects people dying or being permanently injured from drunk driving accidents. I think it's OK for kids to get a little toy from a Happy Meal; parents need to parent and not wait for the government to pass ordinances so they themselves don't have too set boundaries, and it is nobody elses business if a child enjoys a small burger, fries, drink and a toy. Chill out people!

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Posted by havadane
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm

To A Pissed Off Parent...
AMEN!!! I'm with you!!!!!!!!!!!

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Posted by Don D
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2010 at 5:17 am

I would be curious to see what the school cafeterias are offering and what their Phys Ed programs are like.

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Posted by BE
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 29, 2010 at 7:44 am

So Basically these 3 counsil members that voted for this are saying you parents are stupid and can't make the right choices for your kids. Therefor they need to make the decision for you.

Like one of the speakers that spoke up for this at the meeting said that she never buys the meals with toys in them, therefor she aggrees with this measure. Thats what America is about, the freedom to make your own choices. Not for 3 people to tell you what or what not you can eat.

Is this still the land of the free or is this the land where 3 people dictate what you can do.

If you fell the same, vote Ken and Liz out.


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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 29, 2010 at 11:00 am

Don D, typical school lunch offerings are microwave pizza, chicken nuggets, microwave burritos, and fried chicken patty sandwiches. Chocolate milk is offered every day. Sides are things like apples, graham crackers and baby carrots. At my kids school they have PE once a week.

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Posted by Patrick
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I don't think that this new law has anything to do with individual freedom. It is not saying you can't buy your child a happy meal or junk food. It is trying to reduce the brainwashing these corporations exert over our children. My children aren't really interested in the happy meal they are simply attracted to the toys in the meal (which ends up in the landfill one week later). It's just like the government saying you can't have advertisements for cigarettes that appeal to children.

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Posted by Molly S.
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2010 at 4:27 pm

There is an economic viewpoint being left out here. These three ingredients are strong forces to be reckoned with, forces even more powerful than the local government.

1. Lack of work-life balance (High housing prices = need to work more = demand for convenient filling meals).

2. Billions of dollars spent on fast-food company marketing budgets.

3. Enticingly affordable food source (best protein per dollar ratio compared to anything you can buy in a grocery store)

The correlation between economic class and childhood obesity/diabetes has been drawn. Curtailing toys is an attempt to combat issue #2, which is less controversial than setting a maximum work week (countries like France have done this) or enforcing a "fat tax".

You're in the game when you acknowledge that childhood obesity & diabetes is a huge public health problem in the U.S. Next, you have to decide if you care about all children or just your healthy, well-fed kids.

Beyond that, there are two choices for a government. Make people change their behavior or make corporations change their behavior.

You can't fine people for eating fast food (just try it!) and companies aren't going to start serving healthier food. It's a perfect storm of profit, where our pain is their gain.

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Posted by Catherine
a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 30, 2010 at 10:42 am

Jane - very creative! The way around this law is for fast food places to offer the toy for 1 cent "with any purchase of product costing 1.99 or more". The problem with the approach of regulation is that there's a way around nearly everything.

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Posted by Art
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 2, 2010 at 8:53 am

What an absolute, utter waste of time. Along the lines of what another poster here has written, how about more PE, more accessible and fun after-school programs, and more education regarding healthier alternatives? Removing the toy from the meal is like removing the "Apple" logo from a kid's cell phone and expecting that to make him/her study more.

These "guess what I thought up in the shower this morning" ideas really need to stop.

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Posted by mvresident
a resident of North Whisman
on May 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm

What happened to parental responsibility? These children aren't driving themselves to fast food establishments and purchasing their own meals. Who are the parents who allow their kids to eat too much of this food? Who are these parents who can't say "no?" The implication that the toys are causing the kids to be obese is ABSURD!! Do you really think limiting the calorie, fat, and salt will solve this problem. These spineless parents will just add in the supersized fries.

In some cases it's an economic issue too because these meals are amazing cheap. But I can tell you for a fact that there are healthy alternatives to be had at the store that end up being cheaper. The only problem is that it takes effort from these parents.

This is purely parental problem. Stop punishing fast food chains for parental stupidity and laziness!

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