California bans Happy Meal toys over obesity fears

The McDonald's Happy Meal may have to be renamed in California.

McDonald's Happy Meal promoting Disney's Finding Nemo
  1. McDonalds
  2. Happy Meal
  3. Junk food
  4. Fast food restaurants
  5. Nutrition
  6. Obesity
  7. Childhood obesity
  8. Calories
  9. Promotions
  10. Giveaways

Parents across the west coast state will soon be consoling their distraught children as a ban on the free toys included in the meals takes effect.

Californian lawmakers voted on the ban after concerns were raised that the freebies, often used to promote movies, might lure youngsters into the fast food restaurants.

This new attempt to stem the tide of obesity is the first in the US but officials hope that California kids might now shun junk food in favour of something healthier.

Ken Yeager, country supervisor in Santa Clara, claimed the move "breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.

"This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's love of toys to peddle high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium kids meals."

Under the new law, no eatery will be able to offer a giveaway unless their food meets basic nutritional criteria - so, no children's meal with over 485 calories, drink with more than 120 calories or single food item worth 200 calories will qualify.

And that rules out all the McDonald's Happy Meals, despite the recent inclusion of apple and carrot sticks.

But the ban is not without its critics. Supervisor Donald Gage insists that parents should be responsible for their child's diet.

"if you can't control a three-year-old child for a toy, God save you when they get to be teenagers," he told the Daily Mail.

Of course, nobody has yet raised the question as to whether it's the toy or the junk food that keeps kids coming back for more.

What do you think? Will a ban on free toys put youngsters off?