In Santa Carla County, California, a step in the right direction to fight the growing obesity epidemic among children has been made. A ban on restaurants selling kids meals with toys to lure children has been set to begin in 90 days after being voted in by officials of the county this past Tuesday, April 27th, 2010. Major fast-food chains and the State Restaurateurs Association have only the 90 days leading up to the date the ban goes into effect to successfully pitch a “better solution.”
The ban will prohibit the addition of toys to any kid’s meal that does not meet basic nutritional guidelines. County health officials state that fat, salt and sugar form an addictive combination in the brain and adding a toy reward to the formula makes the habit even harder to kick. The county supervisor behind the ban, Ken Yeager stated that “it is unfair to parents and children to use toys to get them hooked on eating high-calorie, high-fat foods early in life.”
Harlan Levy, of McDonald’s, was part of a fast-food restaurant contingent that turned out to oppose the ban. His argument (in so many words) mostly put the blame of the growing obesity epidemic on the judgment of parents, arguing that the ban “substitutes the county's judgment for the judgment of parents” and “doesn’t change sedentary lifestyles that have children sitting watching television or playing video games.”
Yeager argued back that “its parents, schools, exercise, walkability but it is also the endless promotion of toys that are tied to unhealthy meals that is particularly to blame.”
My own personal opinion on this legislation is obviously in support of it. I think that this is a great step forward for the county of Santa Carla, the state of California and our country. In one of my previous posts “The Truth About Junk Food
” I used the use of toys in fast food kids meals as an example of one of the ways fast food companies entice children to persuade their parents into buying this form of junk food as a meal.
I agree that a parent’s judgment on the foods their children eat along with the lifestyles they live are MAJOR factors in the growing obesity epidemic. However, it can be very appealing to get a fast food kids meal for a busy parent on the go who doesn’t really have time to stop and make a healthy meal in between working a full-time job (and sometimes more than one) and raising their children. That and there’s the factor of children’s persuasiveness.
The problem isn’t just the fast food companies. But if their relentless (and successful) attempts at luring us to eat their food wasn’t such a huge factor, a lot less children and adults would be eating these unhealthy meals. And lets face it, the fast food companies do not
want to lose any of our business. So they will fight against this type of legislation and blame the very people they purposely advertise to buy their “merchandise.”
It’s a small step in the big picture of the epidemic, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. Kudos to the officials of Santa Carla County, and Kudos to their supporters.
I will continue to follow this story and keep everyone posted on how it turns out.