How far should government go in regulating fast food for kids?

San Francisco has banned toys with Happy Meals or with any restaurant meal that fails to meet basic nutrition standards. Today’s Question: How far should government go in regulating fast food for kids?

  • Alison

    While I want kids to eat healthier, I’m not in favor of this over-reaching regulation. Government should limit their regulation to meals that they are serving, that is school lunches.

  • Travis

    It’s illegal for kids under 18 to smoke. Is a lifetime addiction to cigarettes really any worse for one’s health than a lifetime addiction to fast food? I don’t have the answer, but I think it’s a perspective worth exploring.

  • Hiram

    MPR hasn’t quite figured out yet that the Democrats aren’t in charge anymore. Like a lot of us, they are in a state of denial.

  • Dianne

    What we really need is a program similar to the stop smoking campaign of my youth. Everyone needs to be aware, not just the kids.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Should? Political decisions in America are almost never based on what should happen. Outside of San Francisco, the Guild Of Patricians would loudly deride any such regulation as a “nanny state” intervention. Never mind that greasy, salty, sugary junk food is every bit as addictive and unhealthful as tobacco, and maybe more so than cannabis. Getting people addicted to unhealthy behaviors is good for business.

  • Greg d’roseville

    No regulation. Just make it easier for families to sue. Companies need to be “exposed” to risk for their decisions. Let them bear the burden of improving the quality, safety and nutritional value of their food product. the government should set minimum standards – objectively. Then let private insurers regulate – through premiums and whatever inspections and records they choose to keep – the quality of restraunts. those “records” should be in a publicly accessible database that is updated after every inspection or rate change.

  • Philip

    No regulation – get out of my business government, I am perfectly capable of raising my own children without the step-by-step instruction by politicians and bureaucrats.

  • Josh

    This is a step too far. You can’t tell me the government doesn’t have bigger fish to fry than regulating what kids eat. This isn’t even a public school lunch we’re talking about. At least that I could understand, but this is too much. Whatever happened to parental control and responsibility?

  • Noelle

    I have mixed feelings about this regulation. I firmly believe that the “kids food” market is abominably unhealthy – take kid’s breakfast cereals, for one – but I feel the approach here should be all or nothing. Continuing with the breakfast cereal example, some of the most unhealthy cereals tend to come with toys or other novelties in the box, similar to happy meals. Should the regulations include any sugar or fat-laden food item marketed to kids that includes a toy, stickers, etc.?

    I personally have no problem with the government imposing a ‘fat tax’ on unhealthy foods, and while we’re at it, let’s add some incentives to purchase healthy foods. How about subsidizing some vegetables other than corn? Then lower income families could actually afford to buyt hem.

  • “government of the people, by the people, for the people . . .”:—We should regulate it just as far as our collective will can.

  • Tom

    As a parent (parental authority and responsibility) I get to fight the providers of fat and sugar and their big advertising budgets. Big business is undermining parental authority and responsibility by making me look like a moron when I want a child to eat good food instead of french fries and coke. Business is not your friend in this. But let’s forget regulation and let people eat their junk, play violent video games, watch crap on tv, use drugs, and get filled with tattoos. We are a society degenerating and nothing can stop it not even free enterprise…

  • Steve

    govt should step in the regulation there is a obesity epidemic and kids need to shown the correct way to eat-parents are slacking off because demands of work etc and kids are on their own so somebody should stepin!

  • Steve

    The government subsidies to corporate farming are behind the junk food addiction of Americans. It is a sad state of affairs when healthy, locally produced foods are expensive, while poor quality, highly processed foods that are transported vast distances somehow end up cheap and plentiful. As tax payers we are paying for all that processing and transporting through our taxes.

    This policy of subsidizing corn, soy beans and white four allows us to produce astonishing quantities of junk food that enrich corporate farms and drive local producers out of business guaranteeing that we must burn huge quantities of oil to transport poor quality food everywhere.

    It is time to reverse the process. Give the subsidies to fresh food in local markets to reduce the fuel wasting transport of poor quality foods.

    The poor are increasingly poor in health as well as dollars, because they can’t afford healthy food, and this inhuman situation exists parallel to advertising campaigns that purposely try to get Americans to consume more calories than they require to sell the excess food we produce. And we wonder why we have an obesity problem? Yes, we need regulation and food policy revisions. The sooner the better.

    Steve

  • Kevin VC

    Regulating fast food?

    Well, if its unhealthy it should not be offered.

    One thought is since whats considered healthy to a adult, as in can be processed safely, might not be the same for kids….

    I am in favor of informing and making information available once the unhealthy or even dangerous is removed. Most fast food stores though provide both information and do not offer unsafe food.

    And maybe instead of regulating the store, point to the parents for their ignorance and the kids for their greed for ‘fattening’ foods/gluttony.

    Parents will claim they do not have time or really don’t care. Making “Supersize Me” a required watching by both kids and parents would be one idea….

    Our ability to say NO when asked if you would like to ‘supersize’ a meal is pathetic. But even still McDonald’s in particular stopped making it a thing you have to ask. Thus reducing the temptation.

    They ask because they know people don’t think about healthy when facing a hungry stomach and tasty food.

    Just like you don’t go grocery shopping on a empty stomach… or rather shouldn’t….

    Even though this is important, and especially in helping to reduce Health-care costs all round, its kinda low on my radar.

  • Chris

    Let the markets decide…by that I mean lets stop subsidizing food and energy so we can understand how much that junk food actually is costing in production and transportation. We may come out a greener (more energy efficient) heathery country this way. We might not need to regulated what we eat or what our children eat if we can see what the true cost of that food really is.

    The problem is the companies who are fighting regulations are the same companies who are benefit from the handouts. Stop the handouts and you’ll increase competition and thus have a true market based system and possibly healthier (cheaper to produce/ship) food.

  • Katie

    This is clearly a local issue as far as I’m concerned. If San Francisco wants to make that ban, presumably with the support of the local population, go ahead.

    I don’t think it would be appropriate at a national level, and I wouldn’t support it at the local level. I’d rather see that sort of change happen by consumer demand of the corporation.

    Ultimately, though, it is the parents’ responsibility to make the food choices for their children. Government can help most by policies that make healthy food affordable, and with general public education campaigns.

  • Amy

    Clearly with the indisputable evidence of increases of childhood obesity across the country, something needs to be done.

    What has happened over the the past 4-5 years? Economic downturn, layoffs, families tightening the budget… perhaps childhood obesity is related to the fact that a poor family can go down to the local McDonald’s and fill their kids bellies for under $10. Its correlation, not causation, but the point I am trying to make is that for families living in poverty, there are not many healthy options to feel a family. Cheap food is processed food or fast food. So the government can regulate all they want, but when it comes down to it, there is a bigger more serious issue here than just controlling what fast food restaurants are allowed to market to kids.

    So maybe the question needs to be, how are we going to make it so poor families have greater access to healthy nutritious food that won’t break the bank?

  • Ann

    The Minnesota media recently reported that Minnesota kids are not overweight. The adults are overweight. Also, parents buy kids treats in the grocery store. So do parents want their kids to have only “healthy” food? When the media report on weight trends, they should mention that weight standards were changed in the last 20 years. When the weights were changed, even some very muscular people became labeled obese because of the extra muscle weight.

  • Kyle D.

    The government’s concern isn’t the eating decisions of individuals, but the effect that poor decisions have on the nation as a whole (of which there are plenty). But regulating fast food directly is probably a losing battle, since there are far more poor eating decisions an individual can make than just stopping in at McDonalds.

    It would make more sense, and potentially be more effective, for the government to launch incentives that promote healthier habits and discourage fast food indirectly. The industry will still cry foul, but promoting good choices is better than banning every bad one.

  • D C

    Here we go again. Just another way for government to interfere in our lives. Smoking is virtually outlawed because of “the kids”. Decriminalization of marijuana? Oh, horrors! What would happen to “the kids”. Beer ads are demonized for the message they send to “the kids” and pro football players must act like perfect angels for the sake of “the kids”. E-e-e-nough already!!! Since when do kids rule this world? I’m just sick and tired of having my choices made for me, (or taken away), because our society has relinquished the task of raising children to the government.

  • Sarah

    Where the public fails to regulate itself, it is the job of government to step in. Why should taxpayers deal with the rising costs of health care, but not submit to basic nutritional regulations from our ELECTED officials? Parents of kids today have clearly shown that they are NOT capable of regulating their children’s diets, so the government should now plug that hole.

  • Roxanne Goodrich

    How about the government offering to pay for a consultation with a dietitian for those families who would like this opportunity? Otherwise government should stay out of our business.

  • Karin

    If the majority of the people of San Fran don’t want corporations bribing their children into unhealhty habits, I don’t have a problem with it. Our society hands kids treats and toys right and left (at the bank, at the dentist, at the restaurant, at church, in school.) Most of this targetting is not purely a “good will gesture.” Companies do this to boost the bottom line. Having a rich corporation trying to bribe kids to eat meals known to be unhealthy when there is a spike in diabetes and obesity just doesn’t seem necessary. The toys may seem trivial to us grown adults, but to a toddler it is not trivial. I think marketing, advertising, and gimmick’s aimed at young children are fair to regulate. While many adult consumers are more irrational than they realize, kids are even more emotional. They are not in a position to make long-term decisions for their best interest.

  • Tom

    Government has no business in attempting to regulate another portion of our lives. Whatever happened to freedom? Freedom to make good decisions and freedom to make bad decisions? We cannot protect people from their own stupidity, no matter how hard we try.

  • lisa

    It’s not the food industry that should be regulated because there are so many types of foods that are unhealthy when consumed regularly or at the expense of healthy food.

    However, parents/guardians who do not seek help for getting an overly obese child’s weight, blood sugar, or cholesterol under control should be scrutinized or charged with child endangerment in the same way that a parent is negligent who does not seek medical help for a child with a life-threatening illness or allows a child to use tobacco and alcohol.

  • DMOX

    I’m about as liberal as you can get…..and even I can’t see the reasoning for this. You can’t legislate good parenting. You can warn them about the dangers of certain foods. You can mandate information printed on Happy Meals that states the caloric & fat content of the foods. But you can’t tell someone that they can’t sell a toy in a Happy Meal, because it makes it enticing for a child to eat it.

    When I lived in SF I would often wonder if they were making up laws just to see if they could – like they wanted to see if anyone was paying attention. This is proof of that belief….

  • Marie J

    I personally believe that fast food is an addiction to kids now a days. We choose what we want to eat, and our children follow us. I do not have kids of my own, but ive seen how fast kids follow people they look up to. Im writing a paper about how kids should not eat kids meals.

  • Marie J

    I personally believe that fast food is an addiction to kids now a days. We choose what we want to eat, and our children follow us. I do not have kids of my own, but ive seen how fast kids follow people they look up to. Im writing a paper about how kids should not eat kids meals.

  • Sabrina Wearne

    i think it is not fair on the kids because their mum and dad will make them stop and they keep going

  • Mark Pollard

    I think that all fast food restaurants should be regulated for kids because they are at a young age, and if they get big and fat at an early age, then that is going to be a conflict for them when they get older. Also, places such as McDonalds and other places that put toys in their happy meals, influence children to go their because they might just want the toy. The fast food market is a scheming, tricky, harsh place that likes to lure people in so they will spend their money, they could care less about other people’s health. This brings me to another point, their should be a law that ensures that fast food restaurants put how many calories are in something, maybe even grams of fat and more. These are the steps that should be taken to ensure successful, healthy growth in children, and maybe even adults.

  • KT

    i’d like to comment on “D C” ‘s comment..

    “Here we go again. Just another way for government to interfere in our lives. Smoking is virtually outlawed because of “the kids”. Decriminalization of marijuana? Oh, horrors! What would happen to “the kids”. Beer ads are demonized for the message they send to “the kids” and pro football players must act like perfect angels for the sake of “the kids”. E-e-e-nough already!!! Since when do kids rule this world? I’m just sick and tired of having my choices made for me, (or taken away), because our society has relinquished the task of raising children to the government.”

    Kids do not run the world as of now, but their generation will. If you want a huge generation of people growing up learning how to be a drunk or sex, etc, than you can live on another planet. People like you disgust me. Basically, your opinion is a horrible one and that is why our world is so messed up. Thanks..

  • Mark Pollard

    Alright, so I think fast food places should not be regulated. The reason I think this is because if we were to regulate what children eat, then the children would suffer. You see, 1 out of every 3 kids are obese, (http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/overweight_obesity.html) and if we were to do that, then kids would not get to eat what they desire. So, I strongly think that fast food places should NOT be regulated. When you are thinking of this topic, think of the kids, and think of how they feel.