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Childhood Obesity Solved: Take Away Their Toys!

happy meal cnn

Give me a break.

The latest big news in the health world (besides the guy who lost 20-something pounds eating Twinkies and Doritos) is that the City of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors banned Happy Meals with toys.


Yes, childhood obesity is a huge problem in dire need of intervention. And I do agree that addressing this issue will likely require a series of small victories. But in my opinion, this is nothing to get excited about. It’s actually pretty ridiculous when you think about it.

It’s been ages since I set foot inside of a fast food restaurant. However, in all of my previous visits, I can’t seem to recall witnessing any seven year-olds ordering their own Happy Meals with their own money.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the stampede of little rug rats demanding Buzz Lightyear with their fries and Cokes. But if my memory serves me, I recollect grown-ups buying obesity. Toys included.

As usual, when grown-ups have trouble using common sense, government has to step in and play the role of babysitter, this time punishing them by taking away their toys. If Big Babysitter really wants to make a difference, I suggest a little quiet time in the corner for those who enable children to eat such garbage, their parents.

The root cause of obesity has nothing to do with action figures. Rather, it has much more to do with grown-ups who can’t say no.

Prior to drawing up such legislation, government may want to take a look in the mirror. If they are truly intent on ending childhood obesity, they should probably do something about that atrocious school lunch program. Or maybe that upside-down food pyramid. How about that stupid farm bill?

I can go on and on. The government’s own laws and agricultural policies are bigger contributors to obesity than animated movie characters.

In typical babysitter form, punishment came with an ultimatum. If Ronald McDonald improves the nutritional value of his menu options by the end of next year, offering more fruits and vegetables, we’ll get our toys back.

Be a good boy, Ron.

This is just plain silliness. No one goes to a fast food restaurant to order fruits and veggies. And kids who play with toys don’t buy their own Happy Meals. Parents do.

It’s long past time for parents to come home and send the babysitters on their way. Legislation is a poor replacement for parenting and education.

And toys don’t cause obesity.

Probably not the most eloquent blog I’ve ever written. I just had to get that off of my chest.

Sean Croxton
Food Realist



15 thoughts on “Childhood Obesity Solved: Take Away Their Toys!

  1. Bobby Khan

    Hey Sean

    I agree, it seems to me that we want to place the blame on others rather then ourselves. Even in Norway they complaine about the toys in the foods and the toyr comercials towards children. When I tell them it is THEIR responsibility to raise their children I get the response “you do not have kids you do not know what it is like to have them naging” So apparently if this child nags their parents for heroin long enough they will probably give in sooner or later

  2. Anna D

    Great blog, Sean. I really enjoy reading it. So very true, the whole system is so wrong and as usual they start at the wrong end. You can see this here in Britain as well. Any problem that arises within the community, e.g. obesity, binge drinking, early pregnancies, the government is trying to tackle the problem the easiest way and approves new piece of ridiculous authoritarian legislation rather then educating people, spreading information, looking at the root of the problem and not the symptom alone..

    I can also go on and on.. just so ridiculous.. then you start thinking may there is really a conspiracy theory

  3. Anna D

    By the way I subscribed to the website but it does not seem to send me the latest blog entries, how do i resolve this?


  4. tanya

    Hmm, sounds suspiciously like common sense speaking there Sean, one of the two rarest practices found in America, the other one being self control!

  5. Chantal C.

    i used to be one of those kids that wanted the toys. i was an only child and bored out of my mind. the whole McD experience had a real attraction for me, until my tweens when one faithful camping day we ate 4 times there. yes, every meals plus an evening snack at McD!!!

    it was an overdose for me. i could not even enter into the restaurant anymore, just the smell would make me sick. i would stay in the car an not eat rather then step in there. we were still eating a lot of junk food though. it baffle my mind all the garbage we ate when i was young.

    i’m glad i broke free from the junk and keep my kids far away from all that toxic processed food. now my issue is with the school offering junk. parents cook treats for the class on special occasion, they learn to count with Smarties so they can eat them as a reward once they’re done. even after sending a food list to the principal so they know what not to give my kids i was still getting calls asking if they could eat this or that… they have no clue what is a healthy food, it’s disgusting. milk chocolate with every meal at the school cafeteria? seriously???

  6. Scott

    If the toys don’t help them market to kids..
    then why would they spend money producing them?

    Sure, parents have to take responsibility for their own actions.
    But as any good marketing agency knows,
    pester power is a highly effective tool of persuasion.
    Particularly when the kids are watching TV all day
    while their parents are busy working.

  7. Robert

    I disagree! I live in Omaha and the fast food companies out here have done a complete “pull the wool over maneuver” on our city. When I go to work and my 2 little girls, one 7 the other 9, are with their school on a field trip, guess where I found out they stopped for lunch- McDonald’s. I was furious! I talked to the school principal and they said it was approved by the district. Are you kidding!? Well, needless to say these companies have pestered their way into the schools, we have to gain our kid’s control back. What am I supposed to do when these dam companies go behind my back? I’m saddened and disappointed by your stance on this Sean really. Where is your compassion for working parents? If we don’t do something about these places sooner or later they will call all the shots. Love your you tube vids! Any more interviews with Sally Fallon?

  8. Chantal C.

    I live in Canada and it’s the same thing at school here, when they go on day trips, they go to McDonald. i find it revolting because school is supposed to give good example. the reasoning they gave me is that not all kids are fortunate enough to have their parent take them to eat there or any restaurant for that matter. there’s an other trip where they took the kids to Pizza Delight. my kids are gluten and dairy free so for us, it doesn’t matter, i pack their lunch box just like any other day.

    but you’re right, we should do something about the school system’s poor nutritional judgment. i think i’ll start writing letters to the local paper. it doesn’t matter much what we say to the school district as long as the majority of the parents have no problem with where the school take our kids to eat. it might even be an opportunity for us to write a small nutritional weekly chronicle. or maybe Sean could write a Chronicle we can ask our local paper to publish? Sean what do you think? it would be an other way for you to get exposed to a wider population.

  9. Robert

    @Chantal This is a victory and we need to have more cities join the fight. It’s not about the toys its about our kids. This is a step in the right direction no matter what popular opinion says. I agree we need more change.

  10. Ruth

    Damn I hate McDon’t so bad that I agree with just about anything to make them less desirable to kids…
    Having said that, I agree that it’s all on the parents to keep junk out of family mealtime. It took my kids about 6 months of asking for McDubious before they finally realized that I wasn’t going there, again, ever. I even explained to my children the reasoning McDangerous uses in having toys at all; that the company is like the Pied Piper, luring kids in so they would bug their parents for pseudo-food which would only made them sick. My kids haven’t asked for it in years, Thank God!

  11. AaronF

    Personally I don’t like playing the blame game, whoever the culprits may be. I see issues like this as complex societal problems. Let’s start by admitting we don’t really know what causes obesity. One person can eat a junky standard american diet and not gain an ounce, while another struggles to keep the weight off. It’s a lot more complex than McDonald’s equals obesity.

    And for all of his who have swallowed the “red pill” as you like to put it… what would make a McDonald’s meal healthy? Would it be salad with PUFA loaded salad dressings. Or would it be fries cooked in beef tallow and whole grain buns?

    Nevermind the fact you are glossing over the societal aspects. People need to be able to fit in with society and function a normal life. You’re not even looking at how the industrial food system has been able to so deeply insinuate itself into our culture. Single people have enough trouble incorporating whole foods meals into their diet. It’s worse for working parents. And you can’t ostracize yourself every time other people go out for burgers or pizza. Now add to that how bad modern nutritional advice is and the average person just doesn’t have the tools to analyze how truly nourishing or detrimental the average food is. What’s a parent to do?

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