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June 22nd, 2010
03:55 PM ET

McDonald's facing lawsuit over toys in meals

By Saundra Young
CNN Senior Medical Producer

McDonald's is being accused of trying to use toys in Happy Meals to lure small children into its restaurants, CNN Money reports.

McDonald's warned: Drop the toys or get sued

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents between the age of 2 – 19 are obese and at risk for serious health problems not just as young children, but as adults. Overweight and obese children are more likely to be at risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  The CDC says balancing calories with staying active is key to maintaining a healthy weight.


Filed under: Children's Health • Healthy Eating

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. WA Med Worker

    What about Cereals???? They have been putting plastic stuff in kids cereal boxes to lure them into eating some of the most sugar enriched food on the grocery store shelf. Where is the law suit against those people. 1-2-3, ready-set-go, EVERYBODY TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN KIDS!

    June 22, 2010 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Michael

    Sure, it's the Happy Meals that are the cause of all these little fat slugs. Or it could be that they have forgotten what playing OUTSIDE means.. Too easy to let the little copies of yourselves sit around and get their asses fat in front of the TV. And it always amuses me that fat parents sit around and wonder how come their children are fat and that people who want to stop these fat kids from getting fatter never seem to look at the parents as the cause.

    June 22, 2010 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lindsey

    What about all the other fast food restaurants that put toys in the kids meals?

    June 22, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Funny

    McDonalds (the fast food culture) is part of the reason for childhood obesity, but only because parents don't teach children that fast food is a rare rare treat, not a regular meal.

    June 22, 2010 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Siobhann

    This is amazing. How do these children get to McDonald's on their own? Do they steal the money to buy these meals? If we have child labor in this country, why isn't anyone focusing on that issue?

    The reality here is that toy or no toy, parent's are busy and it's just convenient and fast to head to the nearest drive-thru. This lawsuit needs to be tossed out. Are we doing to go after the frozen TV dinners for kids as well? That's all my husband would make for the kids when I had to work.

    June 22, 2010 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. chris

    And how is this different than say, Drug companies luring people to try their latest greatest chemical concoction through commercials.They have many flavors to choose from for our little ones. Take the yummy medicine Johnny, It'll make you FEEL BETTER!!

    June 22, 2010 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Charles

    Well, duhhhhhhh! Of course they put toys in the meals to "lure" small children in to their restaurants.

    What's criminal here is that there are idiots that feel that because McDonald's offers a food product that can get you fat, and they choose to market it in a way that appeals to kids that McDonald's some how should "pay"

    MY GOD what is happening to personal responsibility in this country.

    Parents shovel McDonald's in to their kids mouths, night after night, the kids get fat, and it's McDonald's not the parents that are getting attacked!?!?!?

    How about, idiot parents should have a license before they can have a kid, how about that level of nanny government, that would solve all the problems.

    The very premise of this lawsuit disgust me!!

    June 22, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bob

    Please say it ain't so... The government is creating debt that will burden my children and my children's children effectively crushing what used to be the American dream. Now the government wants to steal away my 5 year olds innocent joy in receiving a toy with their meal. Why not. We may as well get them used to being miserable now so that it's not such a shock in the future. Please let me decide for myself and my children what we eat and where. If I feel that they deserve a toy with their meal I'll choose whether they get one or not. Thanks, but I really don't need your help in this area or in many other areas of my life.

    June 22, 2010 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Larry

      Umm it is not the government that is responsible for the lawsuit, nor is it the government that is responsible for most of the stuipd lawsuits in this country. It is the people that live the american dream of a country of clones. Everyone in this country must be skinny, beautiful, wealthy, and not responsible for any of their own actions. That is what this country has become, and it has nothing at all to do with the government.

      June 26, 2010 at 21:44 | Report abuse |
  9. Jon

    If you don't like the toys in Happy Meals, then don't take your kids there. No one said you HAD to go to McDonald's. Leave Ronald alone and get a life.

    June 22, 2010 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Barry in Richmond, VA

    Absurd! Few toddlers have a steady enough income to afford their own happy meals on a regular basis and lack the wherewithal and discipline to hike miles from their home to a McDonalds just for the toy alone.

    First, give the nuggets and fries some credit. Then, sue the parents for being too lazy to stop by Walmart for a toy before cooking a fattening Food Network meal at home.

    What's next, suing all fast food places for using vibrant colors, well-designed imagery and pretty/famous people on ads, cups and bags.

    How about a little personal responsibility?

    June 22, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. eileen

    Who's driving these children to McDonalds and paying for the meals I wonder? How about holding the parent's feet to the fire for once? When I was growing up we ate fast food about once a year...during school shopping. After mom finished dragging 3 kids around for new clothes, she had no energy left to cook the evening meal. We loved the food, (and the toy), but we knew it was a special treat and not likely to be repeated anytime soon. Whatever happened to parental responsibility?? Why blame the fast food industry because we are too tired to go home and cook most of the YEAR these days?
    I am, however, ALL FOR requiring fast food restaurants to post the nutritional content for all their selections. This way I know how lazy I am being when I skip kitchen duty.

    June 22, 2010 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Curt

    Isn't advertising all about "Luring" customers to a product or service. Why make it sound sinister? Why should MacDonald's be sued for peoples' lack of self control. It's certainly not deceptive advertising. Having said that, I would welcome the end of these cheap plastic toys from an environmental standpoint. They are nothing but toxic junk that ends up in landfills. My kids played with them for maybe 20 minutes and that was it.... oh, and my kids are not fat because we controlled their intake!

    June 22, 2010 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. tim

    you folks are crazy. Have you ever tried to get your kid to eat out? When Mom has a hard day, and needs a break. Thank God for MCDonalds. Folks that want to take that away from kids are ridiculous and stupid. Why don't you find out that this is about McD's not allowing its workers to unionize.

    June 22, 2010 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Eric Huntington

    Well, I have to admit, I LOVE the new ANGUS burgers at McD's!

    June 22, 2010 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Corrine

    When will people realize obesity is not caused by MacDonalds or any other fast food place or their toys!!! I, along with millions of my generation, grew up enjoying our "Happy Meals" but with no weight problems. Moderation is the key along with the ultimately important factor of EXERCISE!!! Kids today do not get enough exercise. I'm not going to blame video games or computers but it is more of a mindset. Video games are fine as long as they aren't the only hobby for kids. Also, gym class is not enough not keep kids healthy. They need play at home, outside on playgrounds or in backyards running and playing tag and baseball! Please do not remove the free toys from kids meals to please the people that do not ensure their kids are exercising enough or eating mostly heathly meals!!!

    June 22, 2010 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. cnnaddict08

    I cannot believe someone is trying to sue McDonalds over the toy in the happy meal. I mean you could of had a better reason, or is it your greed taking over and you cant think right. And all you think about is money, because really if it were about the kids then you suggest better choices of food for them and not worry about a toy. If the parents wanted their kids to eat better either fix their food at home or go to a different restaurant.

    June 23, 2010 at 04:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Carol

    Toys were the big draw for happy meals when our kids were young, but we limited trips to McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants to once a week. They remained thin and suffered minimal damage from the salt/sugar/fat intake in these meals. Other parents could do the same thing. The problems arise when the kids get older and have their own money to spend. That's when it is harder to teach principles of good nutrition.

    June 23, 2010 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Wingo

    As far as the suing of McDonalds over toys, it's not like these children are walking up to the register paying for their own meals. If people feel these meals are unhealthy, then it is their responsibility not to buy. If it's the toy their child wants, then that can be purchased individually.

    June 23, 2010 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Karen R.M.

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Has anyone considered the parents? If your child is obese, don't take him or her to eat fast food, period! If we start blaming food chains for problems that can be resolved by will power (or adults), then we might as well close down all candy factories because they produce sweet things that can be highly addictive; close down all Walmarts, because they have a huge selection of non-heatlhy foods; and close down gyms, since apparently no one is using them.

    June 23, 2010 at 08:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. AMomOfTwo

    I think the lawsuit is a little over the top – as parents we can always just say "No, we're not going to McDonald's." When was the last time your five year old grabbed the keys and drove herself to get a Happy Meal?

    The truth is, though, even though we eat healthy, home-cooked meals most of the time, the drive-through does get some of our dollars when there just hasn't been enough time or calories in our day (yes – it happens – the kids are very fit and active). I don't think any of us will mind if the toys meet a quick demise. Both of the kids know that the toys are really dumb; the 8yo has specifically requested 'no toy' the last few times we hit the drive-through, and the 4yo will sometimes agree.

    I really hope they don't switch to books, crayons, or Legos, though. Then the kids might really be swayed by the toys.

    June 23, 2010 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Liz

    Are you kidding me? When will people stop blaming others for everything?

    June 23, 2010 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. dom625

    "But multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents' job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising," he said.

    I took this quote from the original article (follow the link above). And when I read it, I almost fell out of my chair with a mixture of disbelief and shock. We have sunk so far as a society that parents apparently have no control over their children. No, a parent's job is not "nearly impossible" because of corporations; a parent's job is "nearly impossible" because of the child psychologists who frown upon discipline and encourage parents to do whatever it takes to make their child happy. A parent's job is "nearly impossible" because parents nowadays want to be their child's friend instead of the parent. A parent's job nowadays is "nearly impossible" because of parents who are so wrapped up in their own lives that they neglect and/or buy off their kids. Parents need to return to the days of saying "no" to their children, because all we as a society are inheriting are a group of children who are self-absorbed, non-compassionate, undisciplined, spoiled, and in need of constant, instant gratification.

    I have two kids. And while I am by no means mom of the year, I do try to make sure that we have some family time each day, even if we just play a few hands of Uno. And while I do not cook every night, I try to make sure that there are healthy alternatives around–some nights we have oatmeal and toast for supper or a cup of yogurt with lots of fruit and a bagel. There are options for a quick, healthy meal that do not include fast food.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 9gag

      You have my sword.

      March 19, 2012 at 19:12 | Report abuse |
  23. Gee Whiz

    Of course the toys are intended to draw kids into the store. Countless companies around the world do this one way or another – offer them something to come in with the intention of having them buy something else. There is nothing illegal about it. Why sue?

    Parents: name one aspect of parenting you think you are responsible for AND can be held accountable for. Directly or indirectly, parents are buying this food for their kids.

    CDC: what exactly are you intending to sue them for? I guess when the gov wants to take over health insurance, they are going to start flexing some muscle to keep healthcare costs down.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. rob

    This is freaking rediculous! The kids arent buying to damn food and toys, mcdonalds isnt makeing the kids eat the food the parents are! plus how can you only pick on mcdonalds if im not wrong Every fast food resturant has toys with happymeals. Just another LOSER who wants money, how about this go get a real freaking job and stop trying to sue people.

    June 23, 2010 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Pat

    Eileen I couldn't agree more, parents don't have to take any of the blame for anything these days, I live in NY and all the nutrition information is already posted everywhere anything is prepared for you which is/was a great idea. another thing I would like to add about the article is how come McDonalds is the only one being singled out? as if none of the other fast food joints do the same exact thing! when it comes down to it though the parents have to learn how and when to say "no" and do some parenting. there can't be a scapegoat for everything. If you fear your child is obese or at risk of becoming obese monitor their diet and exercise. I ate fast food a good amount in my childhood, my mother told me what I could and couldn't eat, and she limited it. I probably ate it once a week, sometimes more (mainly in the summer). my mother would balance this by having me join team sports and swimming classes, and not just let me sit inside on my butt playing videogames and watching TV. It's called parenting

    June 23, 2010 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Sharon O

    I am so tired of people bashing McDonald's. Trust me,I am no fan of their food but there are other restaurants that serve even worse fare than the 'Golden Arches' and it seems like they have gotten a free pass on what they pass of as nutritious food for kids. Almost every sit-down family style chain restaurant has a kid's menu and they all offer the same stuff: corn dogs, burgers, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and the like. I guess McD' s is just the scapegoat for our obesity woes since they are top dog.

    On another note, I don't understand the "luring " of kids to McDonald's through their advertising. When was the last time you saw an ad for the Happy Meal? McD's does not advertise it anymore and neither do the other fast food outlets, at least not in Indianapolis. They are more interested in you buying their new lattes or salads because that is where they make the most money.

    And... if the CDC wants to tackle the childhood obesity rate, start with the lunches that most public schools serve. The fat and sodium content in some of that stuff is horrible!

    June 23, 2010 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Tracy J

    If people keep it up our gov't is just going to make everything illegal. I want to be able to eat some junk food. Why should those with self control be punished? Haters.

    June 23, 2010 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Cindy

    Toys in happy meals are supposed to lure children, DUH. It's the PARENTS responsibility to limit the intake of said foods. Don't forget the children of today never play outside to exercise anymore. It's also easy to "quiet" your child down if you just give in.

    June 23, 2010 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. eet

    Jeez...what's going to happen when all of our freedoms are taken away?? This is completely nuts. McDonalds offers something, and its up to parents to decide whether to buy it or not. You know you can buy stuff other than Happy Meals there.

    This is sick, just sick. The Nanny state is taking over.

    I'd like to sue for someone taking my choice to buy a Happy Meal for my kid away from me.

    June 24, 2010 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Melissa

    Children want things. Parents say no. It happens everyday despite advertising for Happy Meals, toys, candy, etc. Do them a favor and teach them restraint.

    June 24, 2010 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Alice Kent

    I agree with dom365. My mom was one of those who did discipline. She was not worried so much about my being "happy" about it but she was worried that I not become self absorbed, greedy and disrespectful. She also taught me work ethic and manners. Not all kids but many never say Thank you, maybe because they have so much already.

    But as for McDonalds. These children can't drive and I would think have no regular income. Most of the toys remain in the plastic bag, you can purchase lots of them at garage sales. Also, I have an autistic grandson who eats about 4 things. One of which is McDonald's chicken nugets. He could care less about the prize so please leave McDonald's alone.

    And while you are at it, leave parents alone so they can raise their children. Turn off the TV and give the kids a book, a jump rope, a puzzle or some type of outside activity and tell them to get busy.

    June 24, 2010 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Annie

    This crap has to end!!!! Quit making all of my decisions for me. If I don't want the kid to have a toy, I will take it away. BUT IT IS MY DECISION!!!!!!!!! Leave me alone already.

    June 24, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Michelle

    OMG! Are you serious?!?!? When my coworker told me about this lawsuit I just couldn’t believe how incredibly stupid this world is coming to. I am a mother of two and think this is just ridiculous. For one, parents need to know how to raise children better, which includes educating them on what is healthy eating….We are showing them “your fat, lets sue the company WE CHOSE to go to that is making us fat.” One can go to fast food restaurants and as long as they don’t over do it (and they have an active life style) they do not have to be over weight. It is just so lame that parents are suing because they have no control of their children. A judge should bluntly tell these parents to stop wasting their time on this, because they have more important legal issues they should be focusing on. (Seriously!) All lawyers should not take this case. Bottom line is, if you don’t like the toys in a happy meal, or think it is unhealthy then DO NOT take your kids there. I hope America gets smarter and stops suing people for the dumbest things. Its those miserable human beings that have nothing better to do than to think of suing McDonalds for having toys in happy meals. Do you see how stupid that sounds? “Suing McDonalds for having toys in HAPPY meal” *This is just my opinion, not for anyone to get fired up or crazy….I am just expressing how crazy this world is coming to….suing for toys in a happy meal…Wow! LoL

    June 26, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Gini

    If everyone remembers back around '02 a couple of obese teen girls tried to sue McDonalds and of course lost!
    Their the lawsuit claimed kids and their parents didn't know how fattening the food was.
    Another way to play the blame game and remove personal responsibility for their actions. The nutritional information is everywhere online.
    The "I didn't know" claim no longer flies for a legitimate excuse.
    Just hit the dollar store, stock up on little toys and make your own healthy "happy meals" at home.
    Besides this would not be an issue of kids would turn the TV and gaming systems off now and then to play outside and exercise.
    We the adults need to be proactive and show them how to do it.
    Lead by example people!
    You want healthy kids? Be healthy adults! It's pretty simple.

    June 28, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Dan Bonventre

    Way to go Mc'Donalds. Don't let the government tell you that you can't give toys with your happy meals. this government does not have the power to tell us what we can eat and what we can give away with your meals

    July 9, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Suzanne

    Give me a break! Let parents make the choice where and what their kids will eat. Oh and by the way, my kids have eaten there over the years and get this they're THIN.

    July 12, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dylan

    k people i eat mcdonalds and other fast food a lot and i'm only 13 and weigh 106 pounds so i think the parents and government should shut up cause kids like me like the chicken tender dinner from sonic and the large roast beef and curly fries from arbys and the 20 piece chicken nuggets with fries from mcdonalds and also i' m not obese its genetics that causes obesity my grandmas big but she barely ever eats fast food its genetic

    July 22, 2010 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Dylan

    also going outside is boring so is excercise i love sitting at my computer all day also power to the kids let the kids decide if they want to have mcdonalds or not wheres our rights oh ya our parents! have the power. i wish for one day every adult would disappear so the kids would be in charge for a day

    July 22, 2010 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. christie

    This is rediculous. The toy was put in a happy meal because its suppose to be a treat for children who were good. Actually that was the whole premise behind the happy meal....not to be what the child eats on a daily basis because their mother thinks its easier than cooking, but to be a TREAT for children once in a while. Anyone who eats at McDonalds KNOWS ronalds food is fattening as hell. Why is it the clowns responsibilty to keep your kids skinny. Try this.....pass the fast food most days, go home, and cook your kids a meal with *gasp* VEGETABLES. Holy hell, there's a thought. They even took steps to offer kids healthy choices of apples and milk instead of fries and cokes. Now because low and behold your kids got fat from eating greesy burgers your trying to take away their toys?! Try parenting instead

    July 22, 2010 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Zaira

    Awesome article! thanks for this great article.

    August 11, 2010 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
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