Fast-Food Toy Ban Only Kind of Works

New research shows that a fast-food toy ban in Santa Clara didn't increase healthy options

San Francisco's recent toy ban, stopping chains from giving away toys with unhealthy kids meals, made headlines when McDonald's and Burger King skirted the law by simply selling toys with kids meals for charity.

The ban is meant to increase healthy options and dissuade youngsters from choosing unhealthier options because of a toy. A recent Stanford University study, however, finds that a toy ban may not be as effective as promised.

Santa Clara County was the first to implement an ordinance banning toy and fast food combos, and in the first four months, the amount of healthy menu options didn't increase in any affected restaurants.

While restaurants did start promoting healthier options by offering free toys with healthy meals, none of the restaurants introduced new healthy dishes, or even revamped healthier menu items. This is terrifying since "at baseline, only five of 120 children's meal combinations (4 percent) met ordinance nutritional criteria."

Perhaps the law will work better in San Francisco where more restaurants are affected, once that loophole is closed, of course.

The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.