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New Bill Proposes Modifying Happy Meals with Healthier Options

New Bill Proposes Modifying Happy Meals with Healthier Options

If passed, the proposed Healthy Happy Meals Bill will improve the nutritional value of fast food meals targeted at children in NYC.

New York City legislators are considering a bill that would require fast food restaurants to make children’s meals healthier. The Healthy Happy Meals Bill would restrict the number of calories, fat, and sodium in meals marketed for children, as well as call for fast food restaurants to add healthy options such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits to their children’s menus, according to Reuters.  

The proposed bill would limit meals specifically marketed to children – defined as those including a main course, a side, a drink, and a toy - to 500 calories per serving.  It also allows for only 35 percent of calories to come from fat, fewer than 10 percent from saturated fat and sugar, and less than 600mg of sodium per meal. The Reuters report also notes that the provisions of the Healthy Happy Meal bill would reduce the average child’s daily intake by 54 calories – which amounts to a 9 percent decrease in calories and a 10 percent decrease in sodium and calories from fat per child.

Policymakers based the proposal on a recent study by NYU Langone Medical Center that analyzed consumers’ habits at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King restaurants in New York City.  The data showed that an average 7-year-old consumes around 600 calories per meal and over 800mg of sodium.  

The Happy Meals Bill is part of a larger effort to combat childhood obesity.  According to the NYC department of health, nearly half the city’s elementary school children are above “healthy weight.” The bill currently being considered by New York’s City Council was proposed by councilman Ben Kallos, and is based on several bills already in use in California; it was rejected when first submitted in 2011 but is up for debate again. 

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Catherine Patwell

Author: Catherine Patwell is a student of journalism and Italian at Hunter College. When not studying, she is running along the Hudson River, reading cookbooks, or plotting her next travel adventure. Catherine currently resides in Manhattan. See More

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