December 22nd, 2010
SUPERIOR, WI–(Marketwire – December 15, 2010) – In stark contrast to recent actions by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Superior, WI City Council quickly and decisively determined the fate of a local issue that has recently gained national attention. By a 7-1 margin — and in a single meeting and hearing — councilors in the northwest Wisconsin city of 25,000 decided December 7 that restaurants would not be required to meet new food restrictions in order to continue the tradition of including a toy or incentive with a kids’ meal.
This was a refreshing change from several months of hearings and special-interest posturing regarding the same issue in San Francisco, according to Bob Cutler, CEO of Creative Consumer Concepts (C3) and sponsor of ObesitySolvers.com. Effective December 1, 2011, kids’ meals sold in that city’s restaurants cannot include a toy if the meal does not meet a calorie threshold or does not include a half-cup of fruits and vegetables. The legislation was passed to fight child obesity.
“Fortunately, Superior council members were in touch with their constituents and the nation’s sentiments. They recognized how such a law would interfere with citizens’ right to choose, and that it was not the government’s role to make such decisions for families,” Cutler said.
While acknowledging that kids in Wisconsin are not immune to weight-related health issues, council members promoted the generally accepted methods of physical activity, parental instruction and smarter grocery store shopping as ways to improve children’s health rather than restricting meal incentives.
At the December 7 meeting, Councilor Tom Bridge stated that none of the many Superior constituents he’d heard from supported the measure. Additionally, he doubted the role of toys and meals as sources of health issues, saying that kids would have to be eating at the restaurants often for those to be the biggest part of the problem.
C3 CEO Cutler concluded, “Citizens are best served when representatives listen and act decisively based on community priorities. That was not the case in San Francisco.”
Creative Consumer Concepts (C3) is the largest kid marketing agency in the U.S., serving the restaurant industry for 23 years. The company provides research-based recommendations and award-winning products to its clients. ObesitySolvers.com is a place for discussion regarding the childhood obesity battle, why we need solutions and why we don’t need more issues about what we choose to eat.
December 20th, 2010
CNN) — As a strong proponent of parental responsibility, it both amuses and angers me to see some parents lining up behind an initiative to sue McDonald’s over the inclusion of toys in their Happy Meals.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is leading the charge in this case, pushing the state of California to ban the toys, suggesting that the toys in Happy Meals are inducing children to eat burgers and fries, thus contributing to the obesity epidemic in America.
As I asserted a few weeks ago in my column supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, I fully back efforts to end obesity among our children. But at what point do some folks use common sense?
For example, in a story in the Chicago Tribune, parent Monet Parham said her 6-year-old daughter was so enamored with toys offered in partnership with the movie, “Shrek Forever After,” she pestered her mom to collect every toy. That would mean going to McDonald’s every week, since the promotion was a giveaway each week. And that’s not something Parham wanted.
So instead of being a parent and telling her child, “no,” Parham decided to become a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Instead being the grownup and not giving in to the demands of a 6-year-old, Parham thought it made more sense to sue McDonald’s to make her job as a parent easier.
I’ve long maintained that the problem today isn’t children or the world changing. It’s punk parents changing. Yes, I know that’s a strong phrase, but when a parent can’t control a 6-year-old, then we have some issues.
Do I have any biological children? Nope. But my wife and I at different times have raised six of my nieces. And when they lived in our home, we would take them to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. And when we went, instead of fries, we would order them apples. Instead of a soda, we would get apple juice or milk. Yes, it was that simple. All we did was ask for the healthier options on the menu, and the girls were happy with their Happy Meals.
Why is this so hard?
There is a fundamental role government can play when it comes to nutrition. Going after the cigarette makers who enticed children with cartoon characters to smoke? Good. Limiting trans fats in cooking? No problem here if it makes us healthier. But this is ridiculous.
What we desperately need today are real parents. Parents who understand that it is not their job to be friends with their children but be parents. Parents who get that having a disappointed child who doesn’t get his or her way all the time isn’t a bad thing. Parents who will give their child the right look when the child begins to act a fool and throw a tantrum.
I am not one of these adults who subscribe to the notion that no one can tell them what to do and they can do it all. For instance, I support sex education in schools and don’t believe that we should leave that up to the parents. It’s called education for a reason!
Count me as a major supporter of schools changing their menus to have healthier eating options. And I’m also down with school uniforms. The heck with the peer pressure of the haves and have nots based on designer clothes. None of these prevent parents from doing what they want to do with their children. It’s all about focusing on the broader needs of the child.
What has to be understood is that a lawsuit isn’t the answer to everything. And if we want our children to be healthier, banning a toy will do nothing to make that happen. Push McDonald’s to make healthy options more visible on the menu.
I love the idea of having calorie counts on foods. It has changed my mind on many occasions as to what to buy in a fast food restaurant. Push fast food joints to have a health menu option by adding a salad, fruit and/or water instead of fries and a fountain drink. All of these make sense.
Trying to ban a toy because a parent can’t tell their child no is ludicrous.
My nieces and nephews know full well that when it comes to who is in control, Uncle Ro Ro doesn’t play around. I’m not their friend or buddy; I’m their uncle. What I say goes. I don’t negotiate. I don’t consult. I don’t give in. I make it clear: my money, my rules. As my dad told me, “When you’re grown enough to pay all of your bills, you can make the call.”
If a niece or nephew wants to go to McDonald’s every week for a month just to get a toy, and the deal is we only go once a month, here is the option: “We go once a month or not at all. Your call.”
Trust me, even the biggest child pest has enough sense to figure out that once a month is the better option.
Parents, buck up and be the adult in the family, and stop blaming everything on an outside agency or corporation. Maybe McDonald’s should think of suing sorry parents for not doing their job.
Now that’s a lawsuit I’m willing to support.
October 27th, 2010
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors delayed the Happy Meal toy ban vote until November 2, Election Day. Supervisor Eric Mar, chief legislative author, in a recent article from food.change.org, states that “we have built a strong coalition of supporters and strong majority support on the board. We are committed to delivering on the ordinance’s vital health protections and continue to work with colleagues in firming up a strong implementation plan that responds to concerns raised by the restaurant industry.”
October 27th, 2010
The delayed toy ban vote will give Supervisor Bevan Dufty extra time to think over his decision about whether or not to support the bill.
Here is an article from SFWeekly.com regarding the vote. Dufty, a moderate and mayoral candidate, would be the eighth vote in favor of a plan to regulate how healthy a restaurant meal must be in order to enjoy the privilege of including a toy with its purchase price. Without his blessing, the measure is certain to go down in flames to a promised mayoral veto. With Dufty’s approval, however, San Francisco will join an exclusive list of municipalities that have regulated what McDonald’s can and cannot put in a Happy Meal.
October 20th, 2010
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors was due to meet yesterday, October 19, to vote on the Happy Meal Toy Ban. Supervisor Eric Mar is now asking for a two week delay. This is most likely a political maneuver to ensure a veto-proof vote.
According to a recent article on www.sfgate.com, Mar needs eight votes on the 11-member board to override Mayor Gavin Newsom’s promised veto. The target of his quest for the crucial eighth vote is Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who said he is undecided. Dufty said Monday that he has been getting pressure from both sides of the debate and noted that his voicemail has been filling up fast.
McDonald’s and the California Restaurant Association have been leading the charge against the proposal.
Kids Brand Marketing Agency to U.S. Restaurant Industry speaks out against San Francisco Happy Meal Toy Ban on Detroit’s WJR Radio
October 18th, 2010
Kansas City, MO - Following the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ recommendation that incentives be eliminated from kids’ meals that do not meet nutritional standards, Creative Consumer Concepts CEO Bob Cutler was featured October 5th on the Paul W. Smith show of Detroit’s WJR Radio. Smith cited the “creeping government interference in our lives,” and Cutler readily agreed. While acknowledging his company’s involvement in the industry, Cutler stated, “What really irks me, is that as a citizen, I am just taken aback by the overreaching and overstepping by government officials into the choices that every parent has a right to make.”
Cutler called “ludicrous” the notion of restaurants intentionally scheming against customers to the point of government involvement and warned about what may come next. A recording of the full interview can be accessed at obesitysolvers.com.
Creative Consumer Concepts (C3) is one of the largest kid-smart, brand marketing agencies in the U.S. serving the restaurant industry for 23 years. The company provides research-based recommendations and award-winning products to its clients
C3 – creative consumer concepts
San Francisco Board of Supervisors to Extend Toy Ban Legislation to Include Fast Food Breakfast Items Marketed To Adults
October 13th, 2010
According to the Nanny State Liberation Front, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is not only going after kids meals, but certain breakfast items marketed to adults as well. The article states that a Sept. 27 amendment was added to the city’s proposed Happy Meal Toy Ban ordinance. “A new category of items — breakfast items — are required to contain 0.5 cups of fruit.” Additionally, the amendment demands that the hamburger buns or other sandwich breads that are used in the meals must contain at least 50 percent whole wheat.
One has to wonder what the reason is for including restrictions on the breakfast meal breads seeing that adult customers do not purchase fast-food breakfast meals because of toy incentives.
Detroit Radio Station Interviews Bob Cutler, CEO of C3, about FreeToChooseOurMeals.com & His Stance Against the San Francisco Toy Ban
October 13th, 2010
Thank you to Paul W. Smith for interviewing Bob Cutler about the recent news surrounding FreeToChooseOurMeals.com and the San Francisco Toy Ban legislation on News/Talk WJR 760am, a local Detroit radio station.
Here is a transcription of the first two minutes of the radio interview:
Smith: Now tell me the story here, there is a group that wants to ban the McDonalds Happy Meal’s starting in San Francisco?
Cutler: Well actually, there is a county in California, Santa Clara County, that passed a measure two months ago that banned happy meal toys being offered to consumers. They ban the toys if the meals do not meet a caloric intake requirement in the city, and if the meals meet the caloric intake as the government officials have defined it, then you can get a toy. So that’s been passed in Santa Clara County and San Francisco is looking to adopt the same legislation and impose that on a larger number of restaurants.
Smith: All right, now where does C3, Creative Consumer Concepts, in Kansas City fit into all this?
Cutler: Well, where we fit in is we have been providing those types of marketing materials to restaurants for the past 25 years. I started the business out of my basement, servicing restaurants and their marketing needs and have grown the business over those 25 years into the fortunate position where we can provide those services to over 60 chains across the country.
Smith: So there is a real important business angle for you and also for the rest of us this creeping government interference in our lives, they are not our parent, they are not our nanny or keeper….
Listen to the entire interview below:
October 12th, 2010
An article from http://www.slashfood.com, written by Jennifer Lawinski, informs us that a committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted, 3 – 0, to pass a proposed new rule banning toys from kids’ meals that do not meet certain nutritional standards.
The article states that “In order to include toys, restaurants like McDonald’s must limit the meals’ sugar, sodium and fat content and include a half-cup of fruit and vegetables. The legislation was put forth by board Supervisor Eric Mar as a modest effort to help curb childhood obesity, the Chronicle reported. The board is expected to vote on October 19, but San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has said he will veto the bill. If the mayor does veto the bill, the vote will depend on board Supervisor Bevan Dufty.”
October 7th, 2010
FreeToChooseOurMeals.com Announces: San Francisco Not Awarded Federal Obesity Stimulus Funding
FreeToChooseOurMeals.com announced today that the city of San Francisco recently missed out on $250 million from the federal government for obesity education while the Board of Supervisors busily advanced an unproven plan that restricts the city’s restaurants and their patrons.
Review federal grants awarded to communities: http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/programs/cppw/granteedescriptions.html
The funding was issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative. Communities nationwide will pursue a variety of universally accepted tactics such as consumer education, making healthy foods more accessible and promoting increased levels of physical activity in schools and communities. Meanwhile, if passed, the San Francisco measure would attempt to help fight the obesity epidemic by eliminating toys and incentives in kids’ meals that exceed calorie guidelines and exclude a half-cup of fruit and vegetables.
Bob Cutler, CEO of Creative Consumer Concepts (C3), said that while San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar was asleep at the wheel, San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Clara received about $35 million. “He wants to sponsor legislation geared toward punishing children for ordering a Happy Meal while other California communities receive federal grant money to educate others about eating healthy, staying active and being responsible parents,” Cutler said.
Complicating matters, Cutler said, is Mar’s affection for fast food restaurants. At a September 27 committee meeting, Mar said, “I am somebody who consumes fast food. The Taco Bell/KFC at 6th and Geary – they probably know me by name ‘cause I’m there all the time. My dad raised me eating Big Macs, and it’s really hard for me to stay away from them sometimes.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the funding was part of $373 million recently awarded to 44 communities to fight obesity and tobacco through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A list of approved programs can be viewed at http://www.hhs.gov/recovery/programs/cppw/granteedescriptions.html
FreeToChooseOurMeals.com is for anyone who wants to choose what they eat! Twitter: @ChooseMeals for more information about what you can do to protect consumer choice. ObesitySolvers.com is a place for discussion regarding the childhood obesity battle, why we need solutions and why we don’t need more issues about what we choose to eat.