After more than 300 Change.org members petitioned the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, lawmakers voted in favor of the Healthy Meals Incentive ordinance. Beginning Dec. 1, 2011, restaurants in San Francisco can only offer toys with kids' meals that meet certain nutritional requirements. Meals that are too high in fat, calories, and sodium can no longer come with a free trinket.
Our children are continuing to get sick at an alarming rate from the food they eat.
Each year, toys help sell more than a billion junk food meals to kids -- meals that fail to meet the most basic, federal nutritional guidelines. Toys are the principle reason kids desire the not-so-happy meals their parents tell them they can’t have. And that’s why Supervisor Eric Mar is championing an ordinance that calls for toy incentives to be removed from unhealthy meals in San Francisco County.
Take action below to urge the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors and Mayor Newsom to stand strong against Big Food.
This ordinance is a critical step in protecting the health of San Francisco children. In California, obesity rates have doubled since 1990, with one in three school children now considered overweight or obese. Obesity is the greatest preventable risk factor for diet-related diseases like type 2 diabetes.
There is a direct correlation between the rise in obesity rates and the increase in the consumption of fast food, which is high in sugar, fat, sodium, and calories. The fast food industry sold about $5.5 billion worth of kids’ meals last year. Toy promotions, often tied in with a popular film, are extremely effective and a primary means of attracting young children to unhealthy food; preying upon children’s innate vulnerabilities to marketing. For example, market researcher NPD Group reports that over one third of kids under six say that what they like best about kids’ meals is the toy.
Opponents of the measure argue limitations on toy giveaways are no substitute for public health education. The problem is public health education is already underway and it is being outspent by Big Food on a disturbing scale. With the marketing of toy giveaways and other incentives for kids to crave junk food, public health education can never operate on a level playing field.
San Francisco has always been at the forefront of innovative strategies to improve public health. This is the next step in providing our kids with a better opportunity to lead healthier lives. Let’s not let kids’ love for toys become a cause for ill-health.