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The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a move by that city’s government to ban the handing out of free toys with children’s meals that do not meet specific nutritional guidelines.

According to the story, “The restrictions would pertain to all restaurants but effectively would target the dozens of fast-food establishments in the city, among them McDonald's, Jack in the Box and Burger King ... For example, no single item could contain more than 200 calories or 480 milligrams of sodium. An entire meal could have no more than 600 calories. That would wipe out all but a handful of the Happy Meal offerings at McDonald's - and none of those options include a small hamburger. Several meet the calorie count, but would fail on the sodium content.”

“Our legislation will encourage restaurants that offer unhealthy meals marketed toward children and youth to offer healthier food options with incentive items or toys," Supervisor Eric Mar, chief sponsor of the legislation, tells the Chronicle. “It will help protect the public's health, reduce costs to our health care system and promote healthier eating habits.”

The restaurant industry disagrees.

“The San Francisco Board of Supervisors seems to have an insatiable appetite for punishing the restaurant industry. However, the widespread ridicule that this proposal will receive should give them a case of heartburn," says Daniel Conway, director of public affairs for the California Restaurant Association, adding, “Toy bans are only proven to disappoint kids, frustrate parents and generate headlines for ambitious politicians. The Board of Supervisors needs to stop gorging on political gimmicks and instead focus on creating jobs in their city."
KC's View:
There is, I think, an irony about all the restrictions that have either been passed or considered by the city of San Francisco.

When I was there with my daughter a few weeks ago, I explained to her that I’d always thought of San Francisco as the place in the United States where anyone could go and fit in, because more than any other city it seems made up of people who might have trouble fitting in elsewhere; it has always struck me as one of the country’s least judgmental cities (along with New Orleans). It is one of the reasons that I love it.

And yet, in some ways, it is becoming one of the country’s most restrictive cities when it comes to environmental and nutritional issues. Go figure.