I'm no fan of McDonald's, and I certainly don't approve of the tactic of offering toys (particularly toys related to children's favorite movies and TV shows) as incentives to buy Happy Meals. But someone, somewhere has to draw the line at what is corporate America's responsibility and what responsibility belongs to parents.
This week the Los Angeles Times reported that "a public health watchdog group called on the fast food giant to remove the playthings from all its meal packages" and has written a letter of intent to sue if the toys are not removed. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said that the plastic promotions lure children into McDonald's restaurants where they are then likely to order food that is too high in calories, fat and salt.
"McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," Stephen Gardner, litigation director for the advocacy group said in a statement. "McDonald's use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children's developmental immaturity."
I'm sorry, but who's in charge here -- the children or the parents? Are the children driving themselves to McDonald's and then whipping out their wallets to pay for their Happy Meals?
I realize we're living in an age when parents hesitate (refuse to?) say "no" to their children, but where are their priorities? Are they more fearful of stifling their children's budding self-esteem than of feeding them food that is too high in calories, fat and salt? The former concern is a myth; the second, if ignored, a killer.
For more perspective on this, listen to experts on "When and How to Say 'NO' to Children!"