The toys are said to be luring children to high calorie foods.
McDonald’s “Happy Meals” and other fast food snacks that come with toys are to be banned in part of California in an attempt to wean children off unhealthy, high-calorie diets. The measure, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, is being introduced in Santa Clara County, an area of 1.7 million people that includes Silicon Valley.
One quarter of children in the area are overweight or obese and officials say they are tackling an “obesity epidemic”.
They said toys were being used to lure children to high calorie foods loaded with salt.
Ken Yeager, the county supervisor behind the ban, said: “This prevents restaurants from preying on children’s love of toys to peddle high calorie, high fat, high sodium kids’ meals. It breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.”
Food outlets will be stopped from offering toys with meals that do not meet a set of basic nutrition standards. There will be a limit of 485 calories per meal.
But Harlan Levy of McDonald’s disagreed, saying: “It substitutes the county’s judgment for the judgment of parents. It does nothing to address a holistic response to the problem.”
Happy Meals were introduced in 1979 and since then, toys offered with food have become increasingly elaborate.