NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Following in the footsteps of a measure adopted in San Francisco last year, a New York City councilman has proposed that free toys be banned from fast-food meals intended to appeal to children unless the meals meet certain healthfulness guidelines -- and TheStreet readers think the measure is a terrible idea.
City Council member Leroy G. Comrie Jr. said kids' meals, such as those offered in McDonald's ( MCD) famed Happy Meals and at fast-food chains such as Wendy's Arby's ( WEN), Sonic ( SONC), Yum! Brands' ( YUM) Taco Bell and Burger King, among others, need reduced amounts of fat, salt and sugar if toys are to be included. He introduced the bill to City Council on April 6, arguing that toys only be offered in kids' meals that contain fewer than 500 calories and 600 milligrams of sodium. Less than 35% of the calories may come from fat, he said, save for the inclusion of nuts, seeds, peanut butter or other nut-based butters. The meal would also have to include a half cup of fruit or vegetables, or a serving of whole-grain products. TheStreet asked readers to weigh in on whether the ban was a good idea -- that anything to help fight the battle of childhood obesity is a step in the right direction -- or a bad one -- that banning toys from kids' meals will not do anything to promote healthy eating habits in children. Voters overwhelmingly agreed it was an awful proposal. A whopping 92.3% of the 194 voters though the bill a bad idea, while just 7.7%, or 15 voters, thought it could help fight childhood obesity. The city of San Francisco's board of supervisors voted for a similar proposal in November; Santa Clara, Calif. enacted comparable legislation earlier last year. Comrie's proposal has stricter health guidelines than San Francisco's. In doing so, he declared that "it's important to find a way to make a healthy lifestyle palatable and exciting." Restaurants caught violating the ban, if it were passed, would face fines ranging between $200 and $2,500.