Councilman Leroy Comrie wants to introduce legislation that would ban toys from being included in unhealthy meals at fast food restaurants.
“The health and well-being of New York’s children is one of the most pressing issues facing our city today,” Comrie, a Democrat representing District 27 in Queens, said at a press conference at City Hall Tuesday (Via NY Post). “Prohibiting fast food restaurants from giving out toys with highly unhealthy meals will reduce the allure of such establishments for children while hopefully incentivizing the fast food industry to provide their customers with healthier and more nutritious options,” he continued.
The toy ban, however, is negotiable. Comrie’s proposed bill would prohibit restaurants from distributing toys geared toward children in meals that have more than 500 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium and 35 percent of calories from fat, excluding nuts, seeds and nut butters.
According to data compiled by Comrie’s office, one McDonald’s Happy Meal contains 1,090 calories, one Burger King’s Kid’s Meal contains 1,460 calories, one Wendy’s kid’s portion meal contains 1,080 calories and KFC’s Kid Meal contains 680 calories.
That’s pretty much a whole day’s worth of calories for the first three fast food chains mentioned.
The councilman acknowledged that children have access to and eat more nutritious meals is the responsibility of the caretakers, but he hopes to empower parents by making it harder for the fast food industry to target children with predatory marketing techniques.
Think about it, if the Happy Meal doesn’t contain a toy because it doesn’t comply with the rules then it would be less appealing to the child. San Francisco’s board of supervisors adopted similar measures last year to prohibit restaurants from including children’s toys in unhealthy meals.
Ironically, Councilman Comrie is obese and says that he is a living example of how not to eat. Conversely, his wife is a vegetarian and says that she is trying to help him make better choices with his diet. You can read more about his struggles and the Happy Meal toy ban over at NY Post.
But what are your thoughts about this? Is this too extreme? Should parents be the sole determining factor in whether or not their children should eat Happy Meals?