San Francisco's proposed ban on toys in Happy Meals (or any meal) "unless their sugar, sodium and fat totals are limited and they include a half-cup apiece of fruit and vegetables" continues to slide through the legislative apparatus of the city of San Francisco, with the Land Use and Economic Development committee giving the thumbs up to the rule and recommending full Board of Supervisors approval. In the San Francisco Chronicle account of the committee hearing, this tidbit appeared:
Many pediatricians spoke in favor of the ban, one from San Francisco General even telling the supes of seeing waiting rooms full of kids clutching soda, chips and Chicken McNuggets. (Isn't that like riding the brakes on your way to get your car serviced?)
Those eager to ban toys in kids meals should think about this example for a minute. Why might kids in a pediatrician's office or emergency room be eating convenience foods? Because their parents are suckers, too stupid to fight back against the marketing ploys of Big Food? Maybe.
But perhaps parents are feeding sick kids (or the siblings of sick kids) fast food for good reasons: If a parent have been up all night taking care of a kid with an earache, homecooking might not be in the cards that day. And a trip to the doctor means adding medical bills to her worries. Which makes a cheap, drive-through fast food meal a very reasonable option. And a cute toy could provide a welcome distraction for a suffering child. Feeding kids Happy Meals every single day isn't good parenting. But the occasional toy-and-nugget combo could make a rough day for a time- and cash-strapped family a little bit better. Not every fast food meal fed to a kid is a pure negative for society—or for the kid.