Taking happy out of Happy Meals: Creative solution or going too far?

If you're a parent, you know how much kids look forward to those free toys that come with a kids' meal at many fast-food chains. But it looks like those Happy Meals won't be so happy anymore.

It's the latest effort by lawmakers to tackle a growing problem in this country: childhood obesity. But it begs the question, is this a creative solution to the obesity epidemic or another example where government is going too far? Ask 10 different people and you'll probably get a wide range of answers.

On Tuesday, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 to approve an ordinance that would limit toy giveaways in fast food children's meals that have excessive calories, sodium and fat. And that's not all. It also requires servings of fruits and vegetables with each meal.

It's widely expected Mayor Gavin Newsom will veto the measure. But if it survives, San Francisco would become the first major city in the country to pass such a law aimed at curbing childhood obesity. It would go into effect December 2011.

This isn't the first time we've seen similar measures designed to curb obesity.

City leaders in Boston are considering banning the sale of sodas at city hall and all city-owned buildings. New York City became the first city in the country to ban trans fats at restaurants and California was the first state in the nation to ban trans fats.

"From San Francisco to New York, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making people sick, making our kids sick, particularly kids from low-income neighborhoods," said Supervisor Eric Mar, who proposed the law.

Childhood obesity is a problem concerning health officials across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese. What's even more startling is the number of toddlers considered obese, setting them on a course for weight problems later in life.

According to the CDC, among pre-school age children 2-5 years of age, obesity increased from 5 to 10.4% between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008. The future consequences can be devastating. Children and adolescents could later develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes.

Now, the question becomes, what do we do about it? And should lawmakers get involved? Do you believe it's their duty to ensure this trend stops? Should junk food be regulated or should parents have the option and decide what's best for their kids?

For it's part, McDonald's Corp. say the law threatens business and restricts parents' ability to make choices for their children. What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.