Santa Clara County Tackles Child Obesity

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to ban restaurants from offering toys or other incentive items in conjunction with foods that contain excessive calories, sodium, fat, saturated fat, trans fat and sugars. Interestingly, this ordinance will not affect all of Santa Clara County. Instead, the ordinance only regulates restaurants “in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County.” So, at first glance, this seriously diminishes the number of restaurants that may be affected.

However, the real curious aspect of this law is that it does not prohibit restaurants from serving unhealthy food to children. Restaurants may continue serving high caloric foods with excess sodium, fats and sugars. They just can’t provide toys, games, trading cards, admission tickets or other consumer products along with the meal. Note also that if the restaurant provides such toys, games, trading cards, admission tickets and other products with no purchase necessary, such a transfer will not run afoul of the ordinance since the toy is no longer linked to the purchase of a Single Food item or Meal.

Net effect: much ado about nothing.