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A city lawmaker thinks free toys and other giveaways cause children to clamor for fast food, and he planned to introduce a bill Wednesday that will ban them from meals that fail to meet nutritional guidelines.
The bill would create an incentive for restaurants to cook up healthier options, Councilman Leroy Comrie said.
"If we can get the fast food companies to brand and create nutritious meals where children could receive toys, they would be just as excited," he said.
Meals would be required to be less than 500 calories, as well as low in fat and sodium, according to the proposed law outlined by Comrie's office Tuesday. Any single food would have to be less than 200 calories. Violators would initially be fined $200 to $500.
Comrie, who is himself overweight, has publicly acknowledged his battle with weight and said he ate Happy Meals regularly as a child. He also said he failed to set a good example for his own children by allowing them to eat fast-food.
"Clearly, my weight has always been an issue, and it's something that has given me the impetus to do this bill," Comrie, who has confessed he weighs more than 320 pounds, said, according to The New York Post.
Free toys are most famously packaged with McDonald's Happy Meals, but the bill would apply to any fast-food restaurant.
The law was inspired by a similar San Francisco ordinance.
The New York State Restaurant Association said it was opposed to the legislation. A spokesman for the city chapter, Andrew Rigie, said the bill "robs parents of choice" and will be a burden on restaurants.
"We need to find a more effective way to combat obesity than by taking toys away from children and choices away from their parents," he said.
McDonald's did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.