SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – A California county is stopping restaurants from using toys to lure children to high-calorie, salt-laden food such as popular "Happy Meals" hawked by fast-food giant McDonald's.
Elected officials in the county of Santa Clara, in the heart of technology center Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, voted Tuesday to enact the ban to fight an "obesity epidemic" sweeping California and the United States.
"This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's love of toys to peddle high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium kids meals," said Ken Yeager, the county supervisor behind the ban.
"This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes."
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Harlan Levy of McDonald's was part of a fast-food restaurant contingent that turned out to oppose the ban.
"It substitutes the county's judgment for the judgment of parents," Levy told the board. "It does nothing to address a holistic response to the problem."
For example, the ban doesn't change sedentary lifestyles that have children sitting watching television or playing videogames, Levy argued.