Happy Meal Ban in SF

November 9, 2010

(NaturalNews) But San Francisco’s recent decision to outlaw the Happy Meal — unless it meets certain criteria — may not actually achieve much as far as mitigating the obesity epidemic, according to some.

The recent decision by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors includes mandates that in order for a children’s meal to contain a toy, it must include fruits and vegetables. The entire meal must be less than 600 calories, and only 35 percent of those calories can come from fat. The included beverage must also not be sugary or fatty — meaning no milkshakes or soda beverages.

While advocates tout the decision as a giant leap towards ending childhood obesity, critics say that children will likely still be drawn towards the unhealthy food itself, even without the toy. And according to Janet Helm, R.D., author of a blog called Nutrition Unplugged, the ban could actually have the unintended consequence of making children want Happy Meals even more, giving the meals a type of “forbidden fruit” appeal.

“In the end, what have we taught families about how to make more nutritious choices?” she is quoted as asking in an MSNBC report. And her question is legitimate, considering that parents are ultimately the ones making the decisions to purchase Happy Meals for their children. They may now simply resort to purchasing the larger adult-sized meals for their kids instead.

Standing up against corporate food giants that entice the nation’s children towards junk food with crafty marketing is a definite step in the right direction. But some health advocates believe that continuing to educate the public — and parents in particular — about proper nutrition and how to make quality food choices will make the biggest impact towards improving health and quelling obesity.

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