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Attack on Happy Meal toys is scary to me and freedom loving Americans
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I confess. I'm an "eat out" freak, something ingrained in me at an early age.

In the 1960s - I spent my before-school years in Milpitas - my mother worked as a bank teller to make ends meet. My babysitter forced me to take naps when I was not a nap taker (to this day I detest naps). The memory of forced naps is linked to the joy of Friday nights when my brother and I were liberated from the baby by Mom who took us on a short trip to the local burger place. It was a grand time with Mom.

Mom's budget for fast food was probably higher than the average family's. We moved to Stanislaus County in 1966 when the offering of fast-food chains were extremely limited. I recall spending many times eating at McDonald's on McHenry Avenue a bizzilion times when it was the only McDonald's restaurant in the area.

In 1971 we moved to Oakdale and shopping excursions to Modesto included a lunch-time run through the drive-thru at Jack in the Box on Orangeburg Avenue - the same place it is today. You see, Oakdale had no fast food places.

At that time Jack in the Box was throwing in a kids meal premium of a little plastic magic trick. At that time I was into doing "magic" tricks so I pressed for Jack over Mac. As always, they offered a series of "toys" so that we would want to "collect them all."

I didn't know it when I was a kid but including a toy with a kids' meal, of course, is nothing more than a marketing technique. The offer of a "free" toy is designed to get the kid to bug mom or dad to go to the fast food place and spend money. I get that and have no problem with this ingenious way to make a sale in our land of free enterprise. And let's face it, in today's economy, a Happy Meal toy may be the only one a child from a poor family may get in months. Let's not forget, this was a fun part of being a child, just like today's kids will feel about scampering in a fast food jungle gym play room.

I grimace, as an American who relishes individual freedom, when I hear about the liberal San Francisco County Board of Supervisors outlawing happy meal toys. Specifically, a toy cannot be offered in a kids' meal unless it meets the following nutritional guidelines: The kids meal must offer less than 600 calories, contain less than 640 milligrams of sodium; contain less than 35 percent of calories from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat (with exception for nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese); and must have at least half a cup of fruit or three-quarters of a cup of vegetables.

San Francisco claims to be interested in lowering the incidence childhood obesity. While 15 percent of American children are overweight or obese - which puts them at risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer - parents are responsible, not McDonald's or Burger King. It's also about changing a lifestyle including requiring less food intake and more exercising. While every parent of an overweight child should take action to correct the problem, it's not the role of government to do so or to solely target fast food. I can argue that it's the playing of video games and the watching of TV shows - which rots the mind in many cases - that plays a greater role in childhood obesity over any Happy Meal toy.

Any American should revolt against any government body dictating what a restaurant must serve. How dangerous can it be to have a board of officials - who are only charged to run government such as transportation and public safety and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution - acting as food czars for people? Not much more dangerous, if you ask me. They are behaving unconstitutionally and need to be removed from office; every one of them, including San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar who sponsored the measure.

First of all, this is America. We celebrate our freedoms. If I chose to eat unhealthy food, that's my business, not government's.

I should tell you that I was not ruined by happy meals. Kerry Evnin, my Ceres doctor, tells me I have great health. I weigh 160 pounds at 5-foot-11, and recently ran 10 miles in one hour and 40 minutes. I regularly eat broccoli and cauliflower as part of my regular diet even though as a kid I hated them. My BMI is 22.4 which is in the middle of the healthy band. And interestingly City Manager Brad Kilger last week told me that he thought I was in my late 30s (despite me, under protest, turning 50 next August.) So spare me with the lecture that people who frequent fast food places don't make healthy choices.

If San Francisco - land of "Illegal Aliens are fine with us" and proponents of the "Moms Are Too Stupid To Decide What Her Kid Eats Act" - believes children are going to magically become healthier in the Bay area, they're seriously mistaken. There's a lot more unhealthy eating at home. Homes are stocked with unhealthy hot dogs, starchy foods like macaroni and cheese, sugary snacks and soft drinks and meals drenched in saturated fats in excess of what's being served in a Happy Meal, I can assure you. How the board plans to police home food consumption is beyond me, but I'm sure it would involve more stupid - and illegal - regulation and more taxes. Perhaps banning 7-Elevens from selling Ho Hos and Twinkies? Forbidding Nob Hill Foods from selling Crisco? While we're at it, why not ban every Italian restaurant from serving pasta?

Where does this insanity end? And moreover, why do voters allow these clowns to put a choke collar around their neck and glibly accept control, believing their "masters" care about them when it's all about control?

How do you feel? Let Jeff by e-mailing him at