Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against McDonalds Happy Meals

A mom from California is forming a class action lawsuit against McDonalds, claiming that by providing toys with Happy Meals, McDonalds are using irresponsible marketing tactics to lure children into eating their products.

The advertising of junk food is no longer allowed on television in many locations but McDonalds can advertise their products in their own shop windows with no problems. Often the toys provided for free in Happy Meals are from popular children’s movies too, which increases a child’s desire to have them. Typical toys given free with Happy Meals are Barbie, i-Carly, Shrek and Strawberry Shortcake.


The mom behind the class action is Money Parham. She is backed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The case against McDonalds is that the marketing tactics illegally exploit children. They also say that McDonald’s advertising of Happy Meals with toys is deceptive and unfair to children, unfair to parents, and in violation of California law.

McDonalds have stated that they intend to defend their marketing methods in the California Superior Court in San Francisco where the class action is being filed.

A McDonalds spokesperson told the LA Times newspaper:

“We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand. We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet”.

This could become a landmark case. The growth of fast food restaurants appears to be very closely related to the growth of obesity related illness in the west. As more fast food restuarants open, more people becomes obese and suffer from conditions such as diabetes.

Children are still becoming more obese too, with reports that now 1 in 5 children are obese by 10 years. Research has shown that the cause of childhood obesity is diet and not reduction in activity. It will be interesting to see if McDonalds defend themselves by saying that children should be encouraged to exercise more by their parents.

“McDonald’s didn’t consult with parents about whether they wanted toys in the kids’ meals. You weren’t part of the decision. That was a large corporation paying a large fee to a marketing firm that told them ‘Here’s how you can get people to buy more of these meal for their kids.’ Well guess what folks—that’s classic manipulation.” David L. Katz, MD, MPH Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center

“McDonald’s didn’t consult with parents about whether they wanted toys in the kids’ meals. You weren’t part of the decision. That was a large corporation paying a large fee to a marketing firm that told them ‘Here’s how you can get people to buy more of these meal for their kids.’ Well guess what folks—that’s classic manipulation.”  David L. Katz, MD, MPH Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center

“Egregious advertising to children using toys to lure them to McDonald’s for low-nutrient, high-calorie Happy Meals is damaging to the well-being of children and their families. No doubt, it is one major contributing factor in the current obesity epidemic in the United States.”  Alvin F. Poussaint, MD Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Government intervention is required, with more regulation on fast food restaurants and the marketing of food to children. In the UK companies can no longer advertise junk food to children on television (although some people say that these rules are flawed), however, now moves need to be made to reduce the marketing that they receive direct from the restaurants.

McDonalds Advert Aim At Kids – Not Allowed in the UK

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