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Are the toys included with McDonald's fat-ladened Happy Meals illegal under consumer protection laws? A class action lawsuit claims so.  (Source: Strange Cosmos)

The issue is made more complex by the fact that govenrment farm subsidies are helping keep junk food artificially cheap, and those subsidies are unlikely to go away anytime soon. Thus the government is already intervening to promote cheap junk food.  (Source: ChattahBox)
"Happy Meals" not so happy for children's health, say plaintiffs

America's obesity epidemic is more severe than that of any other large industrialized nation.  In America today, over 30 percent of adults and 15 percent of children are obese.  More so than any other medical issue, obesity is crippling the U.S. economy and health care system.

On Wednesday, a landmark lawsuit was filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest accusing McDonald's, America's largest fast food chain, of luring children into unhealthy eating with toys in "Happy Meals".

Monet Parham, a mother of two in Sacramento, was one of the sponsoring plaintiffs in the case and comments, "I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."

Remember Joe Camel?

The case is similar in some regards to the class action lawsuits filed against Camel Cigarettes over its use of the "Joe Camel" cartoon character.  While eating junk food isn't illegal for children like smoking cigarettes is, many physicians say the risks associated with obesity are as bad as smoking cigarettes or worse.  It should be noted that Camel Cigarettes was forced to discontinue its iconic character and settle its lawsuits out of court for a tidy sum.

Could the Happy Meal be next?

Lawyers for the CSPI say that McDonald's is both harming children by luring children with the toys and harming its competitors which no longer offer similar prizes with their kids meals.  States Steve Gardner, CSPI litigation director, "Every time McDonald's markets a Happy Meal directly to a young child, it exploits a child's developmental vulnerability and violates several states' consumer protection laws, including the California Unfair Competition Law."

The group was also critical of McDonald's claims that it had made its Happy Meals "healthier" by adding Apple Dippers or low-fat milk as options.  They point out that fries and pop are still the most commonly served options for the Happy Meal.

CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson states, "McDonald's congratulates itself for meals that are hypothetically possible, though it knows very well that it's mostly selling burgers or chicken nuggets, fries, and sodas to very young children."

McDonald's spokesperson Bridget Coffing refused to directly comment on the lawsuit, but defended the happy meals, stating, "We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food.  We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet."

What the Suit Means to American's Health, The Fast Food Business

The idea of government courts policing American's eating habits and replacing the role of proper parenting is controversial.  And its important to note that government intervention is partly responsible for the 
success of fast food, as farm subsidies have reduced the cost of beef and corn to much lower levels than Europe and Asia.

For McDonald's, the suit couldn't have come at a much worse time.  The company was just hit by a massive data loss, in which it may have lost as many as 13 million customers' names and email addresses.  And over the last couple years the company's image has been damaged by the nonfiction best-seller/documentary 
Supersize Me.

The case is significant for other fast food companies, as well.  Depending on its outcome, other competitors, like Taco Bell, which does often offer toys with kids meals, may have to eliminate them as well.  And if the practice is condoned by the court, competitors who aren't offering toys may feel compelled to keep up.

In other words, this super-size case may ultimately be the prelude to the U.S. government either practicing a hands-off policy as Americans' waists swell; or opting to try to force consumers to healthier options, via either court rulings or legislation.

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RE: This issue is....
By TSS on 12/16/2010 7:56:08 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny that with every arguement i read about this issue, none of them are "just stop fuckin eating".

Just stop eating. You're stomach says it's had it's fill, there's no need to still cram that hamburger in there. Still got half your plate full of food? Throw it away and order less next time, appearantly you don't need as much. Still eating just because it feels so good? Then you're a junkie who needs to stop stuffing his face and get some help.

It's impossible there's an epidemic of people who have an unquenshable thirst for food. Just learn some god damn self control.

On the subject of the children: There's no reason your child needs a large shake, a large fries and a big mac. Your kids do not know what they want. First you listen to what they want, then you tell them what they can have.

Oh and if it does go bad, if at any time you think: "xxx has made my kids fat", just correct that to " i let xxx make my kids fat".

Obesity isn't an epidemic. The neglecting/dodging of responsibilty, now that's an epidemic of epic proportions.

RE: This issue is....
By Rott3nHIppi3 on 12/20/2010 2:49:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah.. pretty much proven too. There's been lots of studies that simply imply "stop eating" when your stomach is full. It's all about calorie count.. and not what the food is actually made of. But the nanny state won't have that and argue that MikeyD's made their child fat... not the Golden Corrale all-you-can-cram-down-your-throat for $10 buffett followed up by 6+ hours on the PS3 and another 2+ hours on facebook.

Michelle Obama is pushing to eat more salads. FACT: Happy Meal with burger, fries, and a sprite: 580 calories. Salad with Blue Cheese: 360.. but you're still freak'n hungry! Salad without dressing (LOL), yeah.. good luck!!!

Since the clown and a toy apparently "lure" children to happy meals (and not the $1 value menu that appeals to adults) I want to raise awareness to the current administration on other luring characters that have affected my eating disorder(s):

+ M & M's peanut guys (the red peanut is turning me into a commie)
+ Cracker Jack's sailor kid (Don't ask, Don't Tell.. right?)
+ Coco Puff's Cuckoo bird (It's teaching me that its OK to feed chocolate to animals)
+ Orville Redenbacker (Being old shouldn't be so cool).
+ Little Debbie (makes me feel like a pedephile when I say I'm eating a little debbie).

I think all packaging moving forward should always feature a "Turd" icon if the contents are questionable (like the "Parental Advisory" icon). I mean.. who would by a product that's certified "Turd?"

Thanks You.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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