On Thursday's Today on NBC, Matt Lauer lined up two experts to praise the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for voting 8-3 to ban toys in kids' meals that don't meet nutritional standards set by the city. Kids would only get a toy if the meal has less than 600 calories with reudced, sodium, fat, and guar. It must include a fruit and vegetable. Supervisor Eric Mar was quoted: “An as a father and legislator, I think we need to be creative in addressing the childhood obesity crisis in this country.” Correspondent Amy Robach also found critical parents. But NBC's designated experts – their own nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom and diet-book author David Zinczenko -- were unanimous:
LAUER: Just go. You weigh in on this. What do you think of this idea?
ZINCZENKO: I think the San Fran board deserves their own toy. I think they deserve a prize. I don't think it goes far enough. I think when you market something specifically for kids, a product, every other time you have to prove that it's safe. Not so for food. And right now you have sit-down chains that are even worse offenders. They are selling 1800-calorie meals to kids, pasta dishes, 1400 calorie mac-and-cheese quesadillas.
LAUER: Yeah we know the meals are crazy, but what about this idea of rewarding the, the kid for choosing that meal with the toy? What do you think about it?
FERNSTROM: You know the whole issue of having a toy. You know, you want a toy, go to a toy store. This has to do food and what kids are eating. So this is a step in the right direction. This kind of change is hard. For too many years we've had a connection of you go to a place, and you get some food and you get a toy. You don't do it that at home with your kids. So we need to separate this.
LAUER: So we, you're nudging, you're nudging, you want to nudge parents-
LAUER: -and kids in the right direction, to make the right choices.
FERNSTROM: To wake-
ZINCZENKO: You're not banning the toy, you're just saying make it healthier, to get the toy.
In fact, San Francisco is "banning the toy," at least at fast-food joints. Then Lauer started getting silly with the incentives:
LAUER: Maybe we should just make it incredibly unequal. You buy a meal that's bad for the kid, the kid gets a pencil. A good meal, they get a puppy-
FERNSTROM: That's right.
LAUER: -or something like that. I mean give them incentive!
ZINCZENKO: Yeah and I think the restaurant industry is actually behind the curve. I think the general public wants healthier food alternatives and sometimes you gotta poke the restaurants with a stick to get 'em to serve a carrot.
Lauer and his experts never considered how it's weird that California can't enforce a law that bans a minor from buying an ultraviolent video game since it violates free speech -- that was argued Tuesday at the Supreme Court -- but the same liberals would pull the toys away from tots.