San Francisco’s McDonald’s Outsmarts New Happy Meal Health Law

This week, San Francisco residents were subjected to a new law forbidding chain restaurants to give free toys along with meals that fail to follow the city’s nutrition guidelines. Many other areas throughout the U.S. have been skeptical about SF’s attempts to lower childhood obesity rates, but some have implied that the new ban was a wise move.

However, McDonald’s, a fast food chain at risk from the ban, has found a way to get around it. Now, the Happy Meals come with a toy that costs 10 cents, instead of being added to the meal free of charge. All proceeds from the toys are donated to the renovation of the Ronald McDonald House at the UCSF Hospital.

Though the charity aspect of the plan is commendable, it fails to encourage healthy eating in children, and makes it harder for parents to enforce such habits. Over the past two decades, obesity levels have increased dramatically throughout the nation. In fact, one out of three adolescents is considered overweight in the U.S. today.

Lack of exercise, the increasing use of electronic entertainment and the abundance of fast foods have all contributed to the severity of this problem. Obesity can have many negative, long-term effects on a child, including eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, depression, risk of substance abuse, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and more.

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