A proposal to ban the sale of toys with high calorie meals has brought about supersized reactions at McDonalds restaurants in Northeast Queens.
Councilman Leroy Comrie, D-St. Albans, who reportedly struggles with his own weight of 335 pounds, last week announced that he is sponsoring a Council bill to prohibit the inclusion of toys with any meal over 500 calories, or any single food item over 200 calories.
"Prohibiting fast food restaurants from giving out toys with highly unhealthy meals will reduce the allure of such establishments for children while hopefully incentivizing the fast food industry to provide their customers with healthier and more nutritious options," said Comrie.
“Ban ‘em,” said Chad McTigue, who had just pushed aside the last of his two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches at the on Northern Blvd. at 203rd St. “I got an eight-year-old kid. It’s making the kids want them, then they get fat.” He never brings his son to fast food outings, he said.
Sitting on the other side of the restaurant’s upper level, a young adult, Ashley Roman, who was chomping on McNuggets, doubted McTigue’s premise.
“It’s not about the toy, it’s about the food,” Roman said.
A cashier at that location said as many as half the kids who come into the restaurant ask their parent to buy just the toy—no food—which the parents oblige.
"My son got weaned off McNuggets when he was 12. Before that, he wouldn't eat anything else," said Naeem Ahmed, inside the on Northern Blvd. in Little Neck.
Ahmed said his son has had weight issues ever since. Despite this, Ahmed said he was unsure as to what the best solution to the problem of childhood obesity would be.
"I don't know if I would go all the way of banning it entirely," he said of McDonald's Happy Meals.
However, another diner at the restaurant had another take on the issue of marketing fast food to children.
"She always looks forward to the toy," Lisle Bohen said while eating Tuesday afternoon at the McDonald's on Northern Blvd. in Little Neck with her 4-year-old niece, Cerys. "Why would anyone take that away?"
Cerys' grandfather Mike Bohen, also at the McDonald's in Little Neck, weighed in on proposed legislation banning the sale of Happy Meals in the five boroughs.
"I think it's up to the parents to decide what they want their children to eat," Mike Bohen said.
"While I recognize that ensuring that children have access to, and eat more, nutritious meals is ultimately the responsibility of their caretakers,” said Comrie, “the City Council can empower parents by making it harder for the fast food industry to target children with predatory marketing techniques.”
Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone, was skeptical of his colleague’s proposal.
“Our children should instead be taught the discipline to say ‘no’ to Happy Meals and make responsible decisions about what they eat,” said Halloran, adding, “All New Yorkers should have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happy Meals.”