Chile bans marketing of toys in children's food

August 2, 2012 by LUIS ANDRES HENAO
This Nov. 8, 2010 file photo shows a Happy Meal at a McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco, Ca. McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast-food companies are being sued in Chile for violating the country's new law against including toys with children's meals. The law took effect in July 2012 and its author, Sen. Guido Gerardi, filed suit Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, accusing the companies of knowingly endangering the health of children by marketing kids' meals with toys. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

(AP) — A new law in Chile aims to take some of the fun out of fast-food by forcing McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and other restaurants to stop including toys and other goodies with children's meals.

The companies are still using toys to draw in Chile's increasingly chubby children more than a month after the ban took effect on June 7, Sen. Giudo Girardi said as he filed a formal complaint Wednesday with the health ministry.

"These businesses know that this food damages the health of children and they know that the law is in effect. They're using fraudulent and abusive means," Girardi said.

The complaint also targets makers of cereal, popsicles and other products that attract children with toys, crayons or stickers, as well as markets that sell the food.

If Chile's health ministry upholds his allegations, the companies could be forced to remove the goodies or face nominal fines.

The Associated Press left messages seeking reaction with spokesmen for McDonald's Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and KFC's owner, Yum Brands Inc.

Girardi said he wrote the law because nearly a quarter of Chile's 6-year-olds now suffer from childhood obesity — and that its passage came despite seven years of industry lobbying.

"These corporations threatened that if the law was approved there would be no more money for children's foundations, the sick, or athletes, but we were finally able to create a great alliance between the civil society and scientists to defeat these lobbyists," the senator said.

McDonald's Happy Meals — marketed as "Cajitas Felices" in Spanish — have been a major draw for 4-year-old Florencia Moraga, who was playing with her Ice Age movie toys Wednesday night with her father Ricardo at a restaurant in downtown Santiago.

"I loooove McDonald's because of the toys in the Happy Meal!" Florencia said.

Moraga said he takes his daughter every two weeks to the fast-food chain, but would not come back if she becomes overweight.

"She's healthy, skinny, but a kid with obesity was just sitting next to us. If I were his father I wouldn't bring him here," he said.

The Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest sued McDonalds over using toys to market its food to children in 2010, but the claim was dismissed in April. San Francisco banned restaurants last year from providing toys along with meals high in fat, salt, and sugar, but McDonalds has continued providing there by charging consumers a small fee for the goodies. A similar measure was defeated in New York.

The experience of both U.S. cities helped Girardi craft his "junk food law," his spokeswoman, Carol Bortnick, said.

Sara Deon, an activist with Corporate Accountability International, campaigned for the measures in San Francisco and New York, and praised for passing its law. But she said "Chilean public servants should have no illusions" about implementing it.

"Judging from McDonald's response to similar health laws in the U.S. we'd expect the corporation to respond as it long has: it will fight tooth and nail to continue marketing to children," she said. "It will take every opportunity to blame parents for today's health epidemic. Marketing to kids is core to McDonald's brand and to its bottom line."

Explore further: Study looks at fast-food restaurant response to first limits on free toys with kids' meals

shares

Related Stories

Study looks at fast-food restaurant response to first limits on free toys with kids' meals

December 8, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Some of the first fast-food restaurants in the nation prohibited from giving free toys with children’s meals that don’t meet nutritional standards reacted by curbing the marketing of the toys ...

Michelle Obama happy with McDonald's menu shift

July 26, 2011
US fast-food giant McDonald's unveiled a revamped menu Tuesday in a move to offer healthier options and join the fight against obesity, drawing praise from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Collectible toys could lure children to healthy food choices

September 19, 2011
The thought of toys being given out as part of children's meal deals might be easier to swallow, and better for you, if the toys are part of a collectible set and tied to healthy, nutrition-rich food choices. Who says? Kids ...

Recommended for you

Americans misinformed about smoking

August 22, 2017
After voluminous research studies, numerous lawsuits and millions of deaths linked to cigarettes, it might seem likely that Americans now properly understand the risks of smoking.

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.