Lawmakers take aim at QSRs for childhood obesity connection

March 25, 2010
As the U.S. Senate takes up the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to improve nutrition and food safety in school lunches, some local lawmakers have proposed their own legislation to fight childhood obesity.
A Santa Clara County, Calif., lawmaker sees the solution in forbidding restaurants from handing out toys with fast food menu items aimed toward children, according to KGO TV San Francisco. If the resolution passes next month, it would ban the first legislation in the nation to ban toy giveaways and would affect restaurants only in Santa Clara County.
From the story:
A Federal Trade Commission study estimates that restaurants sold more than a billion meals accompanied by toys to children under 12. If passed, regulation could range from an outright ban on toys -- to restricting them being given out only with healthy meals. Some disagree with such restrictions, saying adults should be able to make the food choices how they see fit and believe the fat part isn't solely to blame on the fast food.
NYC zoning changes
In New York a city council speaker announced plans this week to propose changes to the city zoning code in order to stop quick-serve restaurants from saturating poor neighborhoods, according to the New York Daily News. Christine Quinn made the announcement during the release of a study that made recommendations to combat childhood obesity in New York City and London.
The report, A Tale of Two ObesCities: Comparing responses to childhood obesity in London and in New York by the City University of New York and London Metropolitan University, analyzed childhood obesity in the two cities, compared municipal responses and recommended strategies for to bring childhood obesity under control.
The report recommends changes in five sectors: land use and planning; food; parks and green space; transportation; schools, and research and training.
Recommendations include:
  • Use zoning authority, land use review and other municipal authorities to limit access to unhealthy food
  • Use zoning, tax incentives, and city owned property to increase the availability of healthy foods
  • Incorporate active design principles into building codes and housing strategies
  • Set standards for municipal purchase of food in public agencies and leverage economies of scale to promote food systems that support economic, environmental, and human health
  • Re-tool the food safety workforce to address obesity as well as food-borne diseases
South Los Angeles imposed a moratorium on fast food chain restaurants in order to curb obesity rates in that community. But a Rand Corp. study released last fall found that the ban is unlikely to curb obesity rates in the area as lawmakers intended.
The Los Angeles City Council in 2008 approved a year-long ban on new or expanded quick-service restaurants within 32 square miles of the city, including Watts, Crenshaw and Baldwin Hills. The ban was extended until March of this year.

Topics: Policy / Legislation

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