San Francisco Attempting to Ban Happy Meal Toys

Published on October 5th, 2010 | by

Most Americans are aware of the fact that San Francisco is known as one of the more progressive towns in the Unites States. In attempt to uphold that title, policy makers in the city are hoping to get mayor Gavin Newsom on board as they attempt to ban toys in Happy Meals in order to address childhood obesity.

Don’t get the connection? You may not be the only one. Supervisor Eric Mar and his supporters are trying to get more fruit and vegetable content into happy meals (by no means a bad thing) and somehow feel that restricting toys is the way to do it. Is it a space issue? Perhaps McDonald’s could make a bigger carton in order to accommodate a plastic racing car AND an apple, or parents could just go to Toys’R’Us or find the best RC cars guide and buy them a toy instead of feeding them poor quality food to receive it for free.

While I don’t mean to belittle the obesity issue and the importance of keeping children healthy, I wonder if the great people of San Francisco will be able to make their own decisions about anything, twenty or thirty years down the road. Fortunately, Newsom isn’t buying what Mar is selling.

Is it because he thinks that people should be able to make their own decisions as to whether to feed their kids McDonald’s? Not exactly. It appears as though the issue is, not surprisingly, an economic one. When it came to taxing sugary drinks and alcohol further, Newsom decided to put his foot down, mainly because the taxes would have hampered local businesses, although he did sign a ban on sodas in vending machines on city property.

Obviously, McDonald’s has been less than thrilled with this news and has been quoted as saying they aren’t convinced childhood obesity would be reduced through the introduction of more fruits and vegetables.

Of course the issue here is really how much regulation is too much regulation and how do you balance economic concerns with new government policies. At this point, during an economic downturn (one that’s hit California particularly hard), any policy maneuvering that is likely to hurt local businesses is going to be a tough sell.

Image Credit by ezeiza via Flickr under a CC license


About the Author

Jonathan has worked in both journalism and various facets of small business development over the past eight years. Most recently, he graduated from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (graduate school of Middlebury College) in 2010 with an MBA and an MA in International Development Policy. His interests include SME development and its role in economic growth, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as how CSR/Sustainability measures impact both business operations and the communities in which businesses operate. While at MIIS he worked as a summer fellow involved in small business consulting in Accra, Ghana and was an active member of the MIIS Net Impact chapter. As a life long traveler, Jonathan has been fortunate to have lived in, worked in or visited over 20 countries on 5 continents and he truly hopes that he will be able to continue this trend.