Are Happy Meals Making Kids Fat?

For the first time in years I bought a McDonald’s Happy Meal — not because I wanted the food, but because I wanted the toy.

I read that New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie thinks that the toys in Happy Meals are partly to blame for childhood obesity. How? The children crave these toys and force their parents to take them to McDonald’s.

This surprised me because I remember the toys being… well, crappy. But who knows — maybe today they’re giving out great stuff, the fast food equivalent of Oprah’s Favorite Things? So, in the name of research, I stopped at McDonald’s and purchased a Happy Meal.

Here’s what I found out: the toys are still crappy.

In my Happy Meal was a plastic figure of the character Pedro from the animated film “Rio.” When you wind him up, his wing flaps and he revolves. Crap.

I don’t remember my kids ever begging me to take them to McDonald’s because of the toy; we were much more likely to go because of the ball pits and climbing gyms inside. I’d bring one of my sons and after eating he’d play while daddy read the paper. The Happy Meal toy, more often than not, was thrown away later the same day.

Did these trips to McDonald’s develop bad eating habits? I don’t think so. Today my kids don’t eat McDonald’s very often — and on a night that I offer to bring something home, they never request Mickey D’s. No, they usually want something more expensive.

There are plenty of things that contribute to kids being out of shape. It’s just plain dumb to link it to the stupid little trinkets that come in Happy Meals. Instead, I’d urge lawmakers to focus on something even more troubling: the cleanliness of those ball pits.

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