According to CNN, San Francisco may become the first city to try to ban McDonald’s Happy Meals from being served in their current form. In an attempt to turn McDonald’s Happy Meals into a healthy alternative for kids to decrease the childhood obesity issue, San Francisco is attempting to set and enforce specific guidelines for the meals. Some of these guidelines include limits on calories to fewer than 600 calories for the food and beverage, limits on sodium, and minimum levels of fruit and vegetables in each meal.
The measure, which does not appear to be popular in the public’s view, is leading to disagreements within the San Francisco political structure. The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, has threatened to veto the ordinance should it reach his desk. However, the current vote outlook (8 out of 11 board members appear to be backing the measure) means his veto would be overridden.
While I can understand the concern over linking toys to unhealthy meals, the fact that the government is now getting involved in this type of situation is disgusting. As a parent of three, I am put off by the idea that the government wants to force me to feed my kids certain items. I am an adult, educated, and a caring father; I know what the kids need and I know what constitutes a good diet. There is nothing wrong with the random Happy Meal for a child as a special treat. If they are being fed this kind of food daily, then that is a different issue, and parents trying to “healthy up” the Happy Meal is not going to make a bit of difference.
Similar to the removal of vending machines at schools, limits on beverages served at stores, ideas of extra taxes on fattening foods and drinks, this move is a gross overstepping of authority by the government. Stay out of my home and let me be the parent of my child. Offer education, encourage companies (tax credits/breaks) to offer healthier alternatives, such as McDonald’s allowing for apple slices to take the place of french fries in their Happy Meals. The purpose of government is to encourage and shape society through non-intrusive manners. Forcing parents and private companies in a manner that limits their rights to make their own decisions is too far over the line.