Mother sues McDonald's over Happy Meal toys

December 15, 2010 11:32:34 AM PST
A Sacramento mother filed a lawsuit in San Francisco accusing McDonald's of baiting young children into getting hooked on unhealthy meals.

The woman says she wants to protect her 6-year-old daughter and other young children from one of the largest fast food chains in the country.

Sacramento mom Monet Parham says her 6-year-old daughter Maya is so drawn to the Happy Meal toys, she just can't win.

"I like that it's fun and exciting and it surprises me," said Maya.

"I can tell them no all day long, but they still see commercials that convince them you've really got to have this," said Monet Parham.

Parham, along with the help of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court. In it, they claim "McDonald's exploits very young California children and harms their health by advertising unhealthy Happy Meals with toys." And children "do not have the cognitive skills and the developmental maturity to understand the persuasive intent of marketing."

Parham is not looking for money, but wants McDonald's to offer lower calorie meals or get rid of the enticing trinkets. But just who is responsible for what kids eat?

"Should it be the government or should it be the parents? It should be the parents," said former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

"I wish Sarah Palin would start criticizing McDonalds for these manipulative marketing tricks," said Michael Jacobson of the CSPI.

Earlier this year, both San Francisco and Santa Clara County passed ordinances to prohibit fast-food restaurants from including toys with children's meals that don't meet nutritional guidelines. Back then, McDonald's said it does offer lower calorie Happy Meals. And says its marketing practices are misinterpreted.

ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said it will likely be at least two years before this case goes to trial. And that's if this case goes to trial. McDonald's will most likely file a motion to dismiss. But Johnson said courts are becoming more friendly to fast food cases, since the issue of transfats and childhood obesity is becoming an ever increasing problem.


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