CSPI Takes on the Happy Meal

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is threatening to sue McDonald’s if they don’t take the toys out of their Happy Meals.

Their argument is that including toys deceptively markets to children, and they’re giving the fast food giant 30 days to voluntarily change the practice. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

In short, McDonald’s is deliberately marketing directly to unsuspecting little children by offering appealing toys—usually ones related to popular movies or television shows. McDonald’s marketing has the effect of conscripting America’s children into an unpaid drone army of word-of-mouth marketers, causing them to nag their parents to bring them to McDonald’s.

While McDonald’s does include some “healthier” options with their Happy Meals, CSPI points out that, “the reality is that most of what McDonald’s actually dishes out to kids is simply inconsistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other authoritative nutrition advice.”

Over at Food Politics, Marion Nestle has shared a copy of the CSPI letter, if you want to read the entire thing.

You guys seemed to agree that marketing apple juice as a healthy product for kids was deceptive, so what are your thoughts on this one? Is it deceptive to entice kids with toys in their Happy Meals?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by guccibear2005

4 thoughts on “CSPI Takes on the Happy Meal”

  1. More of the same nattering from the CSPI. My 5 year old eats the occasional happy meal, yet she will proudly proclaim that her favorite veggie is brussel sprouts, her favorite fruit is kiwi, and she thinks Reuben sandwiches are da bomb. A little thing called parenting and moderation goes a long way.

    Raise a kid on nothing but tofu and granola, and how do you think she’ll inevitably rebel when she comes of age?

    1. Very interesting! Moderation is always a good rule of thumb. It's really good to hear that there are kids out there who eat their veggies while still having the occasional junk food indulgence!

  2. A happy vegan here :-) Veganism IS for everyone. There’s not a single person in the world who couldn’t be happy and healthy on a vegan diet. To Vines N Cattle.. if that thinking were true then everyone raised on a meat diet would have rebelled and become vegans.

    On the story- as the mother of a 4 year old, those damned toys are the bane of my existence. Luckily, we rarely shop at walmart, but if we happen to be there then he has to walk by the McDonalds with all the toys displayed and he wants them. If he watched more TV (as some kids do) with commercials advertising for the toys, then that could be a huge problem. I’d love it if parents were responsible on their own- most are just not though.. usually through ignorance (simple lack of knowledge) and sometimes we do need help regulating these underhanded nasty companies. The little guy can’t do everything him/herself, especially against corporate giants.

    1. I’m just sayin that if you constantly deny a child something they want, in this case Happy Meals, they’re gonna find away to get it eventually. Might as well provide the occasional outlet, moderation and all that. My uber Christian in laws took away TV for Lent, when my niece was here during that time, my own kid complained that all the niece wanted was TV and didn’t want to play outside.

      My six year old eats happy meals, and somehow we’re able to keep her balanced despite such underhanded corporate giants, who have never forced her, or us, to do a damned thing we didn’t want to. Now excuse me, I’ve got to go roast tomatillos for her birthday party, we’re having grassfed chicken chili verde tacos.

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