By AMANDA VENDER

PHOTO: flickr.com/Stefan
PHOTO: flickr.com/Stefan

The toy gimmick designed to get toddlers hooked on unhealthy fast food will be banned in San Francisco at the end of 2011. In November, 2010, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors made a law that requires restaurant meals sold with toys to follow certain health guidelines. The meals must be low in calories and fat, and they must include half a cup of vegetables or fruit.

People who are against the new law say that parents should be the ones to decide what their kids eat. Health advocates say that asking parents to put up with more nagging from kids is too much.

“It’s time for fast-food companies to stop exploiting children in order to sell more junk food,” said Michael F. Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The group says it is planning to sue McDonald’s to stop “using toys to lure children to Happy Meals.”

A report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest says that kids eat double the amount of calories at a restaurant than they eat in a meal at home, and they eat a lot more bad fat, too.

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar said, “This is a tremendous victory for our children’s health. Our children are sick. Rates of obesity in San Francisco are disturbingly high, especially among children of color.”