Hive Health Media

San Francisco Bans Happy Meals

San Francisco’s board of supervisors has voted, by a veto-proof margin, to ban the sale of McDonald’s Happy Meals.

Their decision will make San Francisco the first major city in the country to stop restaurants from offering a free toy with meals that contain more than set levels of calories, sugar and fat.

“We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure. “From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate. It’s a survival issue and a day-to-day issue.”

The ordinance will only allow restaurants to include a toy with a meal if the food and drink combined contain fewer than 600 calories, and if less than 35% of the calories come from fat.

The ordinance has also set of a firestorm of debate with supporters arguing that it would help protect children from obesity, and opponents seeing it as the latest example of the nanny state gone wild.


BTW, in an ironic twist, the day this ordinance passed…McDonalds relaunched the McRib sandwich.

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.


  1. Marisa

    November 4, 2010 at 11:18 am

    My kids love Happy Meals, but it’s up to me when they get it. In our household, we are fully aware of childhood obesity and its link to fast-food. We’re teaching my children to be active and to eat healthy. But, once per month they can choose a fast-food joint of their choice. As parents, we (and only we) are responsible for our children’s livelihood. No need for others to dictate what is available to U.S. consumers.

    • Douglas Robb

      November 5, 2010 at 7:50 am

      Problem is…I think they see this type of social engineering as a good thing

    • Rich Thurman, MA, CSCS, CPT

      November 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      Sure it boils down to personal accountability and I’m sure you’re doing a great job of that as you are educated on the dangers, but lets face it, the vast majority of parents are not very well educated on how to eat or what’s good and bad. Most parents don’t even know how to be a parent these days. I agree that no one should dictate and that’s not what’s happening in this case. What’s happening is people are saying enough is enough as companies strategically target people with poison. Smoking is bad for our health so it’s banned in public places. The food choices of people are bad for their health and results in increasing medical costs that burden all of us as a society. The problem has multiple facets, but needs to be addressed on multiple fronts. We can at least start with these greedy corporations.

    • Karen

      March 9, 2011 at 5:22 am

      So my big question is this…. would you reward your kids with drugs or alcohol? Obvious answer is no. But really, fast food is the same thing. The food used to create Happy Meals is so low quality it’s almost like saying, “I really don’t care about you.” Take an hour or two and watch Food Inc. You will never want to feed your kids that crud ever again. Why not reward them with a healthier choice of picking a recipe to cook together?

  2. Bill

    November 4, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Once again the defenders of big business marketing to kids are out in force. Please remind my why corporations have a right to compete with parents? Yes, parents are the ones who end up buying the stuff, but there is no good reason why parents should have to even have to have the argument in the first place. Maybe you don’t have kids, but it’s non-stop and, believe it or not, parents often don’t have a say. Our public school accepts advertising dollars from Sonic and McDonald’s! Personally, I’m for ending ALL marketing to kids. IMO it’s unethical.

  3. Deb

    November 3, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Kids who are interested in the happy meal toys cannot go to McDonald’s and buy them for themselves. Parents need to stop trying to blame someone else for their inability to say no to their own kids. If parents refused to buy these things, the restaurant would stop selling them.

  4. Jon

    November 3, 2010 at 7:49 am

    This is another case of hypocritical politicians doing SOMETHING that accomplishes NOTHING.

    Happy Meals are a great reward for kids — it would be a lot more effective if parents were taught the best times for kids to eat them and then used them as a reward if the kids ate well the rest of the time.

    600 calories for a meal? Let’s see the politicians, who have far slower metabolism than the kids do live by a 600 calorie guideline when they dine out–yeah right.

    EET Fitness

    • Rich Thurman, MA, CSCS, CPT

      November 11, 2010 at 10:40 pm

      Happy meals should not be a reward for kids. Psychologically fast food being a reward is the problem with food addiction at the present time. Reward association. What makes you feel good is not always good for you. We need to find other ways to reward our kids.

      and PS: Kids shouldn’t be having 600 Calorie meals. Sure their metabolism is faster but that doesn’t mean they should be consuming 600 calorie meals full of fat and sugar. It’s conditioning their body in the wrong way.

  5. [email protected]

    November 3, 2010 at 6:29 am

    It’s like you can’t win against the big guns eh??!! when I read the headline I thought…..yeah. Some good news about junk food. Should have known better.
    Patricia Perth Australia

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