Mayor McCheese? Newsom Vetoes SF Happy Meal Ban

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This brouhaha in the city by the bay has all the fixings. First, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided to ban toys as giveaways by fast food restaurants failing to meet nutritional guidelines. Under the legislation, restaurant meals that come with toys have to include a half-cup of fruit and three-quarters of a cup of vegetables.

While the ban didn’t specify any one restaurant, it seemed to be aimed at Happy Meals created by McDonald’s, who has the largest share of the fast food market. Needless to say, McDonald’s and other fast food chains vigorously objected.

But wait, kids, there’s more! On Friday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the ban, marking the latest twist in a saga that has stolen the spotlight from America’s childhood obesity activists in a way that would make the Hamburglar proud.[more]

“Parents, not politicians, should decide what their children eat, especially when it comes to spending their own money,” Newsom stated. “Despite its good intentions, I cannot support this unwise and unprecedented governmental intrusion into parental responsibilities and private choices.”

Maybe Newsom is reacting to the recent election, in which pundits say Americans voiced their opposition to governmental regulation. But Newsom pointed to the fact that the city’s Shape Up San Francisco program (not to be confused with the mayor’s Shake Up San Francisco initiative) has helped reinforce healthy lifestyles for children. The program has expanded physical exercise in schools and has educated kids about making healthy choices.

Board Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the legislation, thinks the Board will override the mayor’s veto, suggesting that “reducing the consumption of junk food by kids could spare the health of millions and save billions of dollars to our overstrapped public health system. That’s why pediatricians, educators, parents, community health advocates, and thousands of individuals lined up to support this ordinance.”

Here’s another curious wrinkle to the story: If the Board overrides the mayor’s veto, Newsome may not be around to see it — he was just elected to be California’ s new lieutenant governor, so he’ll be leaving the job anyway.

Expect McDonald’s to mount a legal challenge should the ban continue to be enforced. I’m lovin’ it.

 

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