Fast food takes heat for toy giveaways in kids' meals
On the heels of a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that almost 30 percent of Americans are obese, some child advocates think they know where bad habits are starting: Fast food chains are using toys to lure in kids.
So, they are trying to get the practice stopped. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a letter-writing campaign this week demanding that McDonald's stop using Marvel comic book heroes to market its Happy Meal.
In June, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said it would sue McDonald’s if the chain kept using toys to sell Happy Meals.
“McDonald’s is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children,” Stephen Gardner, the group’s litigation director, said in a statement. “McDonald’s use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children’s developmental immaturity—all this to induce children to prefer foods that may harm their health. It’s a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction.”
Toys related to Dreamworks’ Shrek movie appears on packaging for low-fat milk and Apple Dippers, but the group contends that when families order Happy Meals they end up with French fries 93 percent of the time. The group notes the chain pledged not to advertise kids’ meals with more than 600 calories. The milk, apple and chicken nugget meal is around 430 calories, but the meal the often end up with – cheeseburger, French fries and Sprite has 640 calories as well as a lot of fat and sugar, the group says.
This kind of eating will put the kids at risk for obesity, diabetes and other maladies down the road, the group says.
Officials there acknowledge that parents need to take some responsibility, but they argue that the toys make their job “nearly impossible.”
What do you think? Are the cards stacked against the parents or is it not that hard to say no? Should McDonald’s be able to sell what people are willing to buy?
Photo courtesy of the Center for Science in the Public Interest/Jeff Cronin