In San Fran, Happy Meals Will Soon Be Sad

Although Prop 19, legislation that would have legalized marijuana in California, didn’t pass on Nov. 2, a new controversial bill has just gone into effect in the state: San Francisco passed an ordinance yesterday that prohibits toy giveaways in fast-food children’s meals that have more than 35 percent of their calories from fat. Yes, kids, that means no more free toys in Happy Meals. Public health advocates see this as a victory in their battle to stop the fast-food industry from marketing to kids and as a major step forward in curbing childhood obesity and diabetes. Though San Francisco is the first city to pass such a law in the U.S., it’s expected that many cities will soon follow suit.

Really? This news makes me kind of sad … What’s next: no more prizes in Cracker Jack boxes? Will Chuck E. Cheese be forced to serve whole wheat pizza with soy cheese? I probably ate about one Happy Meal a month as a little kid — on nights when my parents were too on the go to make or stop for a proper meal or whenever we were road-tripping to see my grandparents — and I was always at a healthy, normal weight as a child. You want to know why? Because I played outside, exercised and did sports and didn’t sit inside watching TV/playing on the computer all afternoon after school. Can we really blame fast-food chains for childhood obesity and not lifestyle changes and poor parenting choices?

Call me nostalgic, but just as my parents did, I would like to be able to occasionally take my kids to Mickey D’s for a Happy Meal. True, the toys are kinda crappy and silly, but it’s a surprising thrill for a little kid to break into that free gift. And that meal would be a yummy respite from the super healthy meals I’d make at home for my little critters.

Do you agree that this law is a silly way to try to stop childhood obesity? []