toy ban, Happy Meal, government regulation, obesity epidemic, restaurant industry, fast food consumption, marketing, public health, childrens health

Document Type



Obesity among children in the United States has tripled over the last thirty years. Incidentally, the world's largest fast food restaurant, McDonald's, first introduced its children's Happy Meal thirty-two years ago. Shortly thereafter, the first Disney inspired toy found its way into Happy Meals and the hearts of the "billions and billions served." Although the iconic Happy Meal and accompanying toy have become "a staple of Americana akin to baseball and apple pie," the continued existence of the practice is being threatened in light of the powerful influence toys have on children's food choices, thus contributing to the current obesity epidemic. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has become the leader of the Happy Meal insurgency by enacting the Healthy Food Incentives Ordinance, effective December 2011, outlawing the accompaniment of free toys in children's fast food meals ("kids' meals") unless those meals meet certain health standards.