SF puts children's health above ever-higher corporate profits


In response to an alarming increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, San Francisco's Board of Surpervisors over-rode a veto by the city's outgoing mayor to enact a new ordinance that prohibits fast-food restaurants to include toys with meals that do not meet basic nutritional standards, CNN reported.


"The use of free toys, often tied to characters or themes in new movies, panders to kids to get them to buy meals high in fat and calories," CNN cited the measure's supporters as saying. Not surprisingly, the fast-food industry tried to prevent the measure from being passed — claiming that all of its meals are healthy, that selling meals with toys in them does not pander to children(!), and that parents didn't support the ordinance (presumably because they actually enjoy being badgered by their kids to buy them unhealthy food for the toys).


The law, scheduled to go into effect in December 2011, requires meals (including beverages) to add up to no more than 600 calories, with less than 35 percent of them coming from fat. It must also include half a cup of fruit and three-fourths a cup of vegetables, less than 640 milligrams of sodium, and less than 0.5 milligrams of trans fat. Meals that fail to meet these standards can still be sold to children, but cannot include toys.


"From the Institutes of Medicine to the World Health Organization, we know that reducing the consumption of junk food by kids could spare the health of millions [of children], and save billions of dollars for our over-strapped public health system," Supervisor Eric Mar, sponsor of the legislation, told CNN.


UPDATE: To ensure that higher profits are never threatened by children's health in Arizona, the state legislature's Commerce Committee approved an industry-crafted bill in February that would forbid any of the state's local governments from doing what San Francisco did. The bill safeguards restaurants' ability to give kids crayons to draw with, and to provide coupons, food specials, and other incentives to senior citizens — because all of those things are obviously analogous, and equally critical to kids'  life-long eating habits and long-term health.