A Happy Meal toy ban in California's Santa Clara County

The Sacramento BeeApril 28, 2010 

Sad news for the happy meal.

In what seems to be a first-of-its-kind rule, Santa Clara County voted Tuesday to ban restaurants from giving away free toys in high-calorie meals. This includes nearly all versions of the McDonald's Happy Meal.

The toy edict is the latest in the growing ado about childhood obesity.

"This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's love of toys," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, who proposed the ban. "It is unfair to get people hooked on eating high-sugar, high-fat foods early in life."

Though the law affects only a dozen restaurants in unincorporated Santa Clara County, officials there want to "send a message out to the rest of the country," and foresee similar rules in other counties and states, said Supervisor Liz Kniss.

Some parents say the ban is unpalatable, that it's a step too far in the war against childhood obesity. Restaurateurs are outraged.

Sacramento resident Megan Dill, 37, thinks McDonald's is bad. The 190-calorie salad dressing and mass-produced beef scare her.

Her daughter Kiley, 6, feels differently. She gets excited even driving by the golden arches because of the toys, currently "Barbie in a Mermaid Tale" for girls and "Hot Wheels Battle Force 5" for boys.

"It's the whole Ronald McDonald thing," Dill said. "They market it to kids. She would come here every day if I let her."

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

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