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Ronald McDonald in court

December 15, 2010 |  1:07 pm

Ronald McDonald It's not that I'm a huge fan of McDonald's. It's just that sometimes it seems that as a society, we have grown tired of the heavy lifting required of parenting and turned to government and the courts to do it for us.

First there were the municipalities, including San Francisco, that banned restaurants from giving out toys with their children's meals unless those meals met nutritional requirements set forth by the government in question. Now a Sacramento mother and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have filed suit against McDonald's, saying it shouldn't be allowed to advertise its Happy Meals.

"I don't think it's OK to entice children with Happy Meals with the promise of a toy," said Monet Parham, complaining that her children besieged her with a litany of requests for the children's meals so they could collect the toys.

It's certainly not fun to be around whining children, but what is there to stop parents from responding to a litany of requests with "Sorry, no"? Or even, "We can go to McDonald's once next month, but if I hear about it any more for the rest of this month, there will be no trips there for three months."

The barrage of advertising aimed at kids is annoying and, without parental intervention, potentially harmful, but it's nothing really new. Commercials have touted heavily sweetened, refined and artificially colored cereals as "part of a nutritious breakfast" for as long as there's been TV.

Government has a responsibility to limit cigarette and alcohol advertising to children because it's illegal to sell to them. But should that be extended to hamburgers and shakes, which are (at this point, anyway) perfectly legal for children to consume?


Hands off our Happy Meals

How to tackle childhood obesity?

-- Karin Klein

Photo: A Ronald McDonald sign overlooks the counter at a McDonald's restaurant. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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