No fries with that
On Nov. 9, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, over the objection of Mayor Gavin Newsom, passed a new law requiring fast-food restaurants in the city to improve the nutritional content of children’s meals that include toys, such as the McDonald’s Happy Meal. Supervisor Eric Mar, sponsor of the ordinance, spoke with American City & County about how the new rule will fight childhood obesity and his response to the opposition’s argument that the law intrudes on parents’ right to choose what their children eat.
Q: What do you say to critics of the ordinance, such as McDonald’s, who say that parents should decide what their children eat, not the government?
A: I think it’s the responsibility of parents, of course, but also the fast-food industry needs to take responsibility as well for providing healthier options. A recent study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity really validates a lot of our findings in the city that most fast-food menu items for children that are tied with toys are very, very unhealthy, and if children eat too much of the unhealthy items, it can lead to serious problems with childhood obesity.
Q: What advice would you give to cities that are considering similar ordinances?
A: The first thing is, look at the research and the public health organizations in your area. Utilize the wealth of resources you have in your own community. I would also say look at the great research done by the Rudd Center or other organizations, such as the Prevention Institute in Oakland, [Calif.,] and many others. They have the data and support. If people are educated, I think they would see that our ordinance in San Francisco is very modest, and it’s one step forward to address a growing national problem of childhood obesity.
- Listen to the full podcast, “San Francisco Supervisor explains kids’ meal ordinance,” with Eric Mar.