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August 5, 2010

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

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Diet and exercise


I think that McDonald's should be able to sell what they know and turns profit. This is basically telling the business they can't sell products or advertise for their clientele. I'm not even a child and I love the toys. You don't have to buy the happy meal to get the toy either. I collect all the Hello Kitty toys when they are in. If parents don't want to get their kids food in a happy meal, that is fine. Just don't buy them and stop complaining. If you want your kids to eat better, get them the apple dippers. Seriously, you're the parent. If you can't keep your child in line enough for them to be fine with meals you purchase them, you have to think what is wrong with YOU not McDonald's.

As a parent, if the toy wasn't with the meal, I would still purchase it. I think they are using mcdonalds as a scapegoat.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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