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Nebraska halts fast-food toy ban measure

The Nebraska state legislature’s move to “indefinitely postpone” legislation that would have prevented fast-food operators from including toys in certain kids’ meals drew praise from the National Restaurant Association.

The Nebraska Agriculture Committee voted 8-0 against the “Children’s Health & Corporate Responsibility Act,” or Legislative Bill 126, which would have restricted operators from featuring a toy in children’s meals containing more than 500 calories. The bill also contained restrictions on saturated fats, trans-fats, sugar and sodium.

Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill was designed to address “the epidemic of childhood obesity in Nebraska.”

Restaurants and child nutrition have moved into the spotlight, with first lady Michelle Obama making restaurants a new focus of her year-old Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity, according to a report Monday by The New York Times.

Last year, San Francisco and Santa Clara County, Calif., passed restrictions against toys in certain quick-service kids’ meals with the intent of reducing obesity among children.

The National Restaurant Association has criticized such bans as an ineffective way to improve the health of children.

“Through the action taken today, the Nebraska legislature has sent a message that a restaurant ‘toy ban’ is not an effective way to address childhood obesity,” said Scott DeFife, executive vice president for policy and government affairs for the NRA.

“We hope other jurisdictions will follow Nebraska’s lead and will realize that there are more effective ways to combat childhood obesity that don’t include banning toys and restricting parental choice.”

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected].

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