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Happy Meal ban closer to reality in San Francisco

November 9, 2010 |  3:46 pm

Happymeal It won't go into effect until next year, but San Francisco's ban on handing out toys with children's meals that have more than 600 calories or too much fat, salt and sugar gained final passage Tuesday.

San Francisco supervisors (they're called supervisors because San Francisco is both a city and a county, and in California, counties are overseen by supervisors) voted 8 to 3 in favor of the measure. It now goes to Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has promised to veto it. But the board has enough votes to override his veto.

The measure has been widely ridiculed in some circles, with opponents saying it's up to parents to choose what their children eat -- not politicians. But public health advocates welcomed the action, calling it a small step toward combatting escalating levels of childhood obesity. 

“It’s time for fast-food companies to stop exploiting children in order to sell more junk food, and this measure would at least set basic nutrition standards for meals sold with toys," said Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. "Fatty meat, French fries, white flour, and sugary drinks are the last foods we should encourage kids to eat.” 

Supervisor Eric Mar, who introduced the measure, said supporters were part of a growing movement to help children fight obesity and nutrition-related diseases. "From San Francisco to New York City,
the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick,
particularly kids from low-income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate," Mar said. "It's
a survival issue and a day-to-day issue."

-- Sharon Bernstein

On Twitter @sharonbernstein

Photo: A McDonald's Happy Meal. Credit: Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty Images