New York may be taking the sheen off McDonalds’ golden arches, with a member of the city council proposing toys be banned from kids’ Happy Meals that do not meet nutritional standards.
While Happy Meal treats might seem to be the prime target, Mr. Comrie is taking aim at any fast-food meals that include toys to appeal to children.
Mr. Comrie’s bill, which he is to introduce in the City Council on Wednesday, would restrict toys to meals that contain fewer than 500 calories and 600 milligrams of sodium, and in which less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat (making exceptions for nuts, seeds, peanut butter or other nut-based butters). In addition, the meal would have to contain a half a cup of fruit or vegetables or one serving of whole-grain products.
The New York proposal is modeled on similar regulations adopted in San Francisco last year. Unlike many libertarians, I’m not in principle opposed to very local forms of moral paternalism. But in this case, the detailed nature of the nutritional regulations — no doubt “scientifically proven” — make the attempt look ridiculous.
Why don’t the city fathers make it difficult for McDonalds and other fast food restaurants to stay open in the first place, if they find the chains a menace to their citizens’ health and well being? Imagine growing up unaware that Happy Meals even existed! (Many New York City children are raised never having entered the suburban airplane hangers known as Walmart, for example — and the city apparently wants to keep it that way.)
At least the McDonalds-bashing councilman admits his own addiction to placating his children with Happy Meals:
I’m not healthy. I’m the typical parent with no time and limited options, so you’re grabbing whatever is going to make your child happy. My wife has yelled at me repeatedly for grabbing Happy Meals.
But public concern about McDonalds’ impact on childhood obesity doesn’t seem to have slowed the company down — the chain plans to hire 50,000 new workers on April 19.