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Posted at 11:22 AM ET, 12/16/2010

CSPI helps mom sue McDonald's over Happy Meal toys

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

Forty percent of children ages 2 to 11 ask their parents to take them to McDonald's at least once a week, and 15 percent of preschoolers ask to go every single day. (Afp/Getty Images/Karen Bleier)

The D.C.-based nutrition watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest has helped a California mother file a class-action suit against McDonald's, demanding that the burger chain stop marketing toys to children.

The woman, Monet Parham of Sacramento, claims that the marketing of Happy Meal toys has interfered with her ability as a parent to provide her two children with a healthful diet. Here's a quote:

"I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald's should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience," Parham said. "But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say 'no' to our young children so many times, and McDonald's makes it that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."

CSPI maintains that advertising to people who can't understand the concept of persuasive advertising amounts to deceptive -- and therefore illegal -- advertising. The CSPI news release announcing the action against McDonald's says:

According to the Institute of Medicine and the American Psychological Association, kids as young as Maya do not have the cognitive maturity to understand the persuasive intent of advertising. Advertising that is not understood to be advertising is inherently deceptive -- an idea that CSPI's lawsuit points out is well established in law. "Every time McDonald's markets a Happy Meal directly to a young child, it exploits a child's developmental vulnerability and violates several states' consumer protection laws, including the California Unfair Competition Law," said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner.

Seems to me this is at least as much a parenting issue as it is a matter of deceptive marketing.

I have been quite frank about the fact that my own two kids haven't always, and don't always, eat as healthfully as they probably should; sometimes I'm surprised and even embarrassed by their food choices.

But I can't recall a single occasion on which either child saw a McDonald's ad and begged/nagged/bullied me into taking them to Mickey D's. And if they had, the answer would as likely as not have been "no."

Which is not to say that we never have eaten under the Golden Arches. It's just that we as parents decided when we would and when we wouldn't. In our family, the kids aren't in charge.

Your thoughts? Please comment below, and vote in the poll!

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | December 16, 2010; 11:22 AM ET
Categories:  Childhood obesity, Family Health, Kids' health, Motherhood, Nutrition and Fitness, Obesity, Parenting  
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Comments

Obviously too many lawyers with nothing better to do. Someone sees dollar signs.
If we spent more time parenting rather than pursuing ridiculous law suits we would have a much better society. As mentioned by the author, why can't she just say no?

Posted by: twilkii | December 16, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I think this woman needs some serious help, along with the "attorney" who took her case-talk about frivolous & capricious. What, it’s too hard for her to say no? Boo Hoo. She wants someone else to say no to her children so she doesn’t have to take the responsibility, and I think that’s sad. Honestly, just how is she going to explain this action to her children and their friends? How to win friends and influence people? This mom needs to grow up. How does she ever expect her children to take responsibility when she won’t?

Posted by: julieforBarack | December 16, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

If they win again McDonalds I guess all ads for cereal,toys ,games, clothing, soft drinks, milk and EVERYTHING will be in jeopardy since they may be tempting to children of stupid parents that don't know how to turn off the TV or monitor what their children are watching. Why don't parents PARENT instead of trying to sue everyone?

Posted by: patmcoll | December 16, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

the last two comments are so typical these days, maybe it's not right but litigation is not the answer it's people like you that have ultimately created all the litigation because you cant make up your mind. The question is "is MacDonald's marketing practices getting inside the heads of our children period" Yes they are, you can be in as much denial as you want why do you think the majority of them are near schools pull your head people.

Posted by: jmartinez1 | December 16, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Who gives a flying flip whether the marketing "is getting in my kids' heads?" First...believe it or not, I control what they watch. Really. Second...my kids don't have a car, job or other means to get McDonald's without me involved, so whether they're in my kids heads or not is irrelevant. CPSI is a bunch of morons with ONLY their own interest (NOT the public) in mind.

Posted by: byte1 | December 16, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Try taking responsibility for your own actions. Try being a parent and saying "NO". Laziness and complacency is no a excuse for your bad choices...

Posted by: irascible1 | December 16, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Unreal. She's bringing a lawsuit because she's a lazy terrible mother who can't enforce rules in her own home? McDs is forcing her to give her kids Happy Meals? She needs to be punched in the face.

Posted by: ElSith | December 16, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Good grief, you can buy the toys without buying the food! The toys need not interfere with providing a healthy diet for kids or adults. I can have a salad and a tiny Millennium Falcon.

Posted by: NoVaMusicMom | December 16, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

This rationale does indeed apply to everything that a child might see in an ad during this holiday season... even a "Red Ryder BB Gun with a compass in the stock... etc." Poor Ralphie!

Posted by: IndependentSince72 | December 16, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I read somewhere that the woman, Monet Parham of Sacramento, is food advocate. Maybe I am wrong but this lawsuit is BS for me and this woman knows exactly what she is doing. Another intervention on the free market by the nany state lover. It's just annoying. Also I would love the media on this woman.

Posted by: trumeau | December 16, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm with byte1 here - my daughter can't go to McDonald's unless I decide first to offer it as a choice. And I can't remember the last time she ever asked to go there to get the Happy Meal toy. I'm not sure that she has ever seen a McDonald's commercial as we usually fast-forward thru commercials. I'm struggling to think about anything she knows about the Happy Meal before we go to McDonald's.

If marketing material is getting into your kid's head, make sure your kid is smart enough to interpret it! It's called PARENTING!

Posted by: kirstycat | December 16, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Why is the mother taking her kids to McD's if she's trying to provide them with a healthy diet?

Posted by: WildBill1 | December 16, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I read somewhere that the woman, Monet Parham of Sacramento, is a food advocate. Maybe I am wrong but this lawsuit is BS for me and this woman knows exactly what she is doing. Another intervention on the free market by the nany state lover. It's just annoying. Also I would love the media on this woman.

Posted by: trumeau | December 16, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I read somewhere that the woman, Monet Parham of Sacramento, is a food advocate. Maybe I am wrong but this lawsuit is BS for me and this woman knows exactly what she is doing. Another intervention on the free market by the nany state lover. It's just annoying. Also I would love the media to research on this woman.

Posted by: trumeau | December 16, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Lord of Loo!

This woman is as bad as the theocons who would censor museums. If you don't like what McDonald's sells, don't go there!

Posted by: areyousaying | December 16, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I work for a McDonald's, and I can tell you that a Happy Meal has many food choices, some healthier than others. Also, I have noticed a much larger marketing push by Burger King. They have roughly the same food choices, too. Why weren't they included? Easy - McDonald's has bigger pockets.

There's personal responsibility going on here, too.

I hope this lawsuit is tossed out - I mean, it's not like the kids are allowed by themselves to go to McDonald's and buy this stuff without parental supervision.

Essentially, what this boils down to is that some parents can't stand up to their children.

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | December 16, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I think they need to join the TV manufacturer, the Cable company, the advertising agency, the toy manufacturer on the suit.

I mean, it is a lot easier suing all these people than being a parent. And they say I am an extremist when I say people should be tested to see if they should qualify to have kids or at least become parents.

Posted by: samiismoni14 | December 16, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

In another article on another media site Ms. Parham is quoted as saying she takes her children to McDonald's on a monthly basis.

Ms. Parham, if you do not wish to have McDonald's "market" to your kid then STOP taking her to McDonald's.

You're not the victim here lady. If anyone here is the victim it's your child and YOU are the victimizer for your failure to step up, say no, and feed your kid healthy meals.

And FWIW, Ms. Parham you CAN purchase the toys sans Happy Meals.

Another article states that Ms. Parham is not just some ordinary citizen with an interest but is in fact a state employee (CA) who works on child nutrition matters as well as someone involved with other CSPI-like organizations. Not that this is an issue but it makes her claims of concern ring hollow. She has an agenda.

Posted by: NoneoftheAbove08 | December 16, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

No surprise here, a California lawsuit.

Don't they have better things to worry about in California than this?

What a waste of time and the taxpayers money.

McDonald's is getting inside your children's heads? How, by the TV ads? Well, tell your kids to go outside and play instead of sitting their fat a$$ in front of a TV.

Posted by: jwash4472 | December 16, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

In addition to being a complete waste of time & resources, this is absolutely ABSURD! I guess the idea of PERSONAL responsibility when up in the fry vat! HORRIBLE!

Posted by: The_Funknician | December 16, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

We stop at McDonald's on long car trips, only. And even then I prefer Wendy's to "the M place" as my pre-schoolers call it. They never ask to go any other time, and if they do, I say no. When we do go, I don't buy them a happy meal. As far as I know, they don't know what one is.

As for the "perils" of advertising, no problem. My children don't watch TV (except for the occasional Sesame Street or Dora, most of which I permit only on an ad-free computer).

I'm not a never, ever parent. Rules are meant to be broken. But they also aren't very hard to establish and stick to. If you feel strongly about child nutrition (and I certainly do), join a CSA, skip McDonald's, and save the lawsuit. Order pizza, make your own "nuggets." It's really not that hard.

Posted by: DCLawyer1 | December 16, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Say what you will about the frivolity of this law suit, but when my now grown son was two, and a McDonald's commercial came on TV, he would stop whatever he was doing and stare, dumbstruck, at the TV until it ended. Then he would snap out of his trance and go back to what he was doing. The first symbol he ever "read" was the golden arches of McDonald's. Scary. That was probably a thousand burgers ago. He knows better now, but I never forgot the influence McDonald's had on his young mind.

Posted by: cjbass55 | December 16, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

that's why I took the "sort of" option.

Yes, it is up to the parents to exert some control on their children's choices.

However, McDonalds _is_ marketing to young children who "do not have the cognitive skills" etc, etc.

If Joe Camel, why not Ronald McDonald? Both are pushing unhealthy choices...

Posted by: pete1013 | December 16, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

cjbass55 - ah, the power of advertising. but really, why did you let him watch tv at age two?

Posted by: DCLawyer1 | December 16, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I despise McDonald's, but--regardless of whether or not the suer has an agenda--it's easy enough for parents to simply say "no." We did for years, mostly successfully.

Posted by: KJEast | December 16, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

What a sad, pathetic excuse for a parent. She might as well hand the kids over to Child Protective Services because its only a matter of time before the kid becomes a ward of the state anyway. If the mother can't say "no" now,when is she ever?

Posted by: overed | December 16, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm going out on a limb here:

The mother is poor but overweight.

Something I have never understood.

Posted by: Personal_Fowl | December 16, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Parham is the same person as "Monet Parham-Lee". Monet Parham-Lee is an employee of the California Department of Public Health. Interestingly, her name has been scrubbed from the website of Champions for Change, the Network for a Healthy California. She has given numerous presentations and attended conferences on the importance of eating vegetables and whatnot.

She presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables. To the extent that Monet Parham-Lee has EVER taken her daughter to a McDonald's, she should have known better.

Personally, I've always taken the position that french fries are vegetables, especially if there's ketchup involved.

Here's a bio:

Name: Monet Parham-Lee, MPH
Title: Regional Program Manager
Organization: Network for a Healthy California, CA Dept. of Public Health
Address:1616 Capitol Ave
City: Sacramento State: CA Zip Code:95814
Phone: (916) 552-9906
Email: monet.parham-lee@cdph.ca.gov
Monet Parham-Lee serves has a Regional Program Manager within the Network for a Healthy California; a program of the California Department of Public Health funded by the USDA-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program). She spends most of her time at the Network providing consultation, technical assistance and on-going support for the Regional Networks which facilitate the full integration of a variety of State Network-level functions on the regional level, bringing services and support closer to Network-funded projects and partners serving the low income audience. Ms. Parham-Lee also serves as the Network's lead staff person on early childhood matters, working closely with several Network funded Statewide Leadership Projects focused on early nutrition and physical activity. Prior to joining the Network, she worked in a variety of health services, childrens services, and public health programs at the State-level, as well as with the Greater Sacramento Urban League.

S H O C K E R!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Personal_Fowl | December 16, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Saying "no" is part of being a parent. If it is harder because McDonald's advertises, then it is harder. That doesn't let parents off the hook.

Kids overeating fattening foods is the parents responsibility. Get a grip!!!

Posted by: amelia45 | December 16, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Here is an easy non-legal solution: don't bring your fat little nose miner to McDonald's! This case will go in the garbage where it belongs. What's next? I know! Let's sue Starkist because their tuna stinks.

Posted by: CubsFan | December 16, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

This case will be thrown out - until McDonalds offends Muslims, that is.

Posted by: CubsFan | December 16, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The lawsuit goes too far, and I doubt it was ever intended to succeed. But I think most people are missing the point. By setting up a craving in children for this food (not unlike addiction btw) through advertising tactics that are overwhelming for young children, McDonald's and others are forcing parents to say "no" more often than they otherwise would. This has the net effect of estranging the parent and child due to the additional conflict. Basically she is saying you are causing a rift between my child and I because you are forcing me to say "no" more often, using tactics that are actually against the law (by their interpretation). It's not that she can't say no, it's that she has to much more often because of them. It's a subtle but valid point, however I don't think it warrants damages. I think the lawsuit is meant to get people thinking about what should be permissible for advertising aimed at children.

Posted by: conare | December 16, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

If this woman is that concerned, don't feed your kids McDonald's food. Toys or not, is not the issue. Also, being a parent is knowing when to say "no", and sticking to your guns. YOU decide what your kids will eat, don't blame the restaurant YOU take them to.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 16, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The lawsuit goes too far, and I doubt it was ever intended to succeed. But I think most people are missing the point. By setting up a craving in children for this food (not unlike addiction btw) through advertising tactics that are overwhelming for young children, McDonald's and others are forcing parents to say "no" more often than they otherwise would. This has the net effect of estranging the parent and child due to the additional conflict. Basically she is saying you are causing a rift between my child and I because you are forcing me to say "no" more often, using tactics that are actually against the law (by their interpretation). It's not that she can't say no, it's that she has to much more often because of them. It's a subtle but valid point, however I don't think it warrants damages. I think the lawsuit is meant to get people thinking about what should be permissible for advertising aimed at children.

Posted by: conare | December 16, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

This woman is a piece of trash who should be ashamed of herself. Sadly, she is not ashamed of herself or her parenting skills. This CSPI group is also a bunch of morons. If any judge allows for this suit to move forward, we are all doomed. Next up is Chucky Cheese and obviously Toys R US is going down because their advertisements make parents spend all of their money on toys for their kids to the point where the parents can't pay the mortgage or rent.

Posted by: Jsuf | December 16, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

ADVERTISING WORKS?

Sure. Tell that to Calif. Gov. Whitman.

To the Ralph Nader crew -- get a life. Please. Thanks.

Posted by: russpoter | December 16, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Conare, if this woman has to say "no" so may times because her children want to eat at McDo, it might be because the children interpret the "no" as a "maybe". If you don't show assertion in some situation, then you are the only one to be blamed. I am sure her children at other times such as by crying because they cannot get the latest toy or they cannot watch a television program. Crying is a tactic used by children and if you can't deal with and stop it, then maybe you shouldn't have a child. This kind of lawsuit is just frivolous and Courts should make this woman pay for wasting taxpayers money.

Posted by: trumeau | December 16, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

If this woman is that concerned, don't feed your kids McDonald's food. Toys or not, is not the issue. Also, being a parent is knowing when to say "no", and sticking to your guns. YOU decide what your kids will eat, don't blame the restaurant YOU take them to.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 16, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Mama/Daddy: Just say "No".

Posted by: vadata060440 | December 16, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I would love to be on that jury. Please PARENT your children. If you say no, well then, it's no. I am so tired of companies getting sued because we as a society refuse to accept any responsibility of our own actions. I would love to look at this woman and tell her that she is the mommy and saying no is her JOB. Saying no will not scar your child for life, but it may help them to function in a world where they will hear the word "NO" constantly and continually.

Posted by: seriouslyfolks | December 16, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

If you can't tempt your kids with something that tastes better that a greasy patty of some type of charred animal flesh, and oversalted vegetable shortening soaked potato sticks, your are pathetic.

Posted by: DaveinDC3 | December 16, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to the power of the pocketbook / wallet?

How about parents owning-up to their own responsibilities and not not do a shake-down of corporations?

Oh Jeez, Monet Parham-Lee, Regional Program Manager, Network for a Healthy California, CA Dept. of Public Health.

Can you say "conflict of interest?"

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | December 16, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

What ever happened to the power of the pocketbook / wallet?

How about parents owning-up to their own responsibilities and not not do a shake-down of corporations?

Oh Jeez, Monet Parham-Lee, Regional Program Manager, Network for a Healthy California, CA Dept. of Public Health.

Can you say "conflict of interest?"

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | December 16, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

If anyone should be sued it's the FDA for coming up with the food pyramid and telling us we need 8 servings of bread every day, and teaching elementary school kids that pizza is healthy because it contains all four food groups.

Posted by: pswift00 | December 16, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

79 percent against.

No big surprise.

That's because CSPI wants to take away your toys. You don't want big bad John Boehner to do that, don't you?

Posted by: bs2004 | December 16, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

My mother & father were always the parents in our housedhold. The Parents are ALWAYS the Parents. Learn to say NO to your dam child without feeling so dam stupid !!

Posted by: Raidersfan2 | December 16, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

this is absurd. this lady needs to take a lesson on how to raise children and learn how to say NO. I bet shes fat and so are her kids, if i ever see her im going to slap her in the face.

Posted by: capsfan10 | December 16, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

@ DaveinDC: I'm not sure how much "charred animal flesh" is actually in McD's burgers, and actually they're not greasy at all. That's because they're not really food, they're chemicals: http://bestofmotherearth.com/2008/09/24/1996-mcdonalds-hamburger.html

I favor creating an organization of secret superhero-like people, The Parent Police, who can arrest people like Parham for being terrible parents. (the same sort of people who leave their young children unattended in bookstores, assuming they're safe, when in reality any potential child molestor can come in off the street and hang out, waiting for new vicitims)

Posted by: DCfencer | December 16, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm no fan of McDonald's, but this lawsuit is hooey. Children of tender age are legally presumed not to be able to care for themselves. It is the responsibility of parents to make proper decisions and take proper actions for their young children. If the parents don't, they can be charged with child neglect.

Also, one can easily purchase Happy Meal toys from McDonald's without the accompanying food. I have done so on many occasions for my kids and for community projects.

Posted by: nan_lynn | December 16, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

What a waste of court resources. This woman must be brain dead or the trial attorneys have convinced her that there is a pot of gold under the golden arches. She must be held responsible for McDonald's costs as well as the full court costs.

Posted by: bobinthewest | December 16, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

The judge that allows this to go to litigation should be castrated so his genes won't be passed on...

Posted by: lolas13 | December 16, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I hope they win! As the mother of an autistic child on a gluten and casein free diet, I cannot drive him to or from school without passing a McDonald's and getting nagged to the point of insane by a 5 year old with fixation problems to begin with. And this fixation is just from his exposure at school, for example, so and so elementary school night at McDonald's as my son is not exposed to television advertising. When a corporate posterchild for irresponsible behavior such as McDonald's gets to a kid as shielded as my son, they need to be sued and they need to pay out...BIGTIME!!!!!

Posted by: one_princess_aurora | December 16, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Social Services should be knocking on her door first thing in the morning if she can't handle something as simple as decided what her kids eat. Unbelievable, and what's worse is that 11% of the people that voted in this poll voted in favor of this idiot.

Posted by: ouvan59 | December 16, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

unlike Ms. Huget, we never took our kids to McDonalds when they were young. yet, whenever we would pass one while on the road they'd start begging to stop there. how come? it wasn't anything they heard at home. maybe it was their classmates, but that's not a far stretch from the ad campaigns of the big fat industry: hook one and you've got all their friends too.

Posted by: eomcmars | December 16, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Did this lady spill some coffee on her lap or what?

My daughter, 6, and I go to McDonald's about 3-4 times per year. She calls it Old McDonald's because she has not been brainwashed by commercials, but by happy children's songs.

Posted by: mattrandolph | December 16, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I never went to McDonalds as a kid. Incredibly, it wasn't until college that I was introduced to the wonderful Big Mac. The CSPI is, along with PETA, one of the stupidest organizations on Earth.

Posted by: taonima2000 | December 16, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse


Have you ever heard of a place called "123 Get Samples" on the web, they give out a free samples of major brands to promote their products. I just got mine.

Posted by: juliasmithy | December 16, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I am a practicing parent (she’s 8). I have to tell her no more often than I ever thought I would (my apologies to my parents because she a lot like me). That said, saying “no” is part of being a parent. To heal the “rift” others say this is causing (conare) we curl up with a book. Reading a book with your child avoids the evils of TV and the advertisers. I love McDonalds, not because of their advertising but more because of the secret sauce (proof that advertising works). But I resist the temptation to let my daughter pick any fast food restaurant regularly. BTW, it’s the play land that gets her to pick McDonalds.

@ one_princess_aurora: I understand that your parenting challenges are very different than mine. But if the fixation wasn’t McDonalds, it would be something else. That is one of the effects of Autism.

This law suite is an example of what is wrong with our legal system. It ties up resources that could be better used. The judge in this case should call it a frivolous and require CSPI and the mother to pay McDonald’s attorney fees.

The generosity of our nation with our entitlements is admirable, but it has eaten away at our since of personal responsibility. We are responsible for our actions. I have a daughter. I am responsible for her eating habits, dressing habits, exercise habits, reading habits, TV watching… I am old enough to fiend off the advertisements and it is my responsibility to make sure she is able to fiend off sneaky advertisement plots when she is making decisions that affect her health.

I don’t believe we can legislate personal responsibility. It is time for our society to take a stand. Last November I voted NO when asked if I thought we should retain our judges. I know some are appointed for life but not all are. I refuse to support judges that are afraid to do what is right.

A random closing comment @ Taonima2000: Saw this on a shirt, “PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals.”

Posted by: mmgestes | December 16, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

If the kids are too young to understand marketing inducements like toys, I think the kids are too young to have handguns.

I mean, they are forcing Mom at gunpoint to take 'em to McDs. ... Right?

Posted by: don_read | December 17, 2010 3:52 AM | Report abuse

I would not be so quick to demonize Mrs. Parham for her actions. Her intentions are good; although parents should teach their children healthy values, the reality is that many parents do not, and so a ban on Happy Meal toys would probably improve the health of American children.

However, a lawsuit is an inappropriate venue for such a debate. As some of you have mentioned, Mrs. Parham stands to profit by a decision against McDonalds, so any good reasons for her actions can be passed off as excuses. Also, a ruling against McDonalds could have unintended and far-reaching constitutional effects. And a ruling for the company could legally insulate it against future, more solid attacks. A lawsuit is too personal a level for such a move.

Posted by: Natethegreat52 | December 17, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to see the verdict on this one. It could lead to a wave of similar cases (think about cereals...etc).

Reality says she can't win. But, stranger things have happened.

Read Aloud Dad
www.ReadAloudDad.com

Posted by: ReadAloudDad | December 17, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

this is in line with the woman that sued mcdonalds for her coffee being too hot. if this woman cant say no to buying a happy meal, i dont think she is fit to be a mother. she is ultimatly the one responsible for her child, not mcdonalds.how dare her and her lawyers tell others what should be available to the public.

Posted by: astroman215aolcom | December 17, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Well, as silly as I think it is ... why not?

Yes, parents should be able to say "no" but if we wanted to ensure that all parents were capable and competent enough to be parents we should start with a "parenting license." If we don't go that way than we have to accept that some parents aren't good parents at all.

Yes, the corporations target children -and recent neuro-physiological research indicates brains are not fully functioning until mid-twenties - and they manipulate the message with the express purpose to influence their decision making. Should they be allowed to do this when their decision making capabilities are, at best, still forming?

Why not go forward with the lawsuit? At the very least it begins a national debate -as we see here.

Posted by: topwriter | December 17, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

This woman evidently doesn't want to take the responsibility for parenting her own children. Doesn't she realize that we have choices to make when it comes to the health of our children? One of those choices is saying "no".

This is getting to be ridiculous. A Happy Meal once a month is not going to kill a kid - nor is a Big Mac once a month going to kill an adult.

Blame the companies, blame their advertsing, blame the toys - but for heaven's sake don't blame the person responsible for not being able to say "no"!
Absurd!!!!!!

Posted by: Utahreb | December 17, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

This woman evidently doesn't want to take the responsibility for parenting her own children. Doesn't she realize that we have choices to make when it comes to the health of our children? One of those choices is saying "no".

This is getting to be ridiculous. A Happy Meal once a month is not going to kill a kid - nor is a Big Mac once a month going to kill an adult.

Blame the companies, blame their advertsing, blame the toys - but for heaven's sake don't blame the person responsible for not being able to say "no"!
Absurd!!!!!!

Posted by: Utahreb | December 17, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

This woman evidently doesn't want to take the responsibility for parenting her own children. Doesn't she realize that we have choices to make when it comes to the health of our children? One of those choices is saying "no".

This is getting to be ridiculous. A Happy Meal once a month is not going to kill a kid - nor is a Big Mac once a month going to kill an adult.

Blame the companies, blame their advertsing, blame the toys - but for heaven's sake don't blame the person responsible for not being able to say "no"!
Absurd!!!!!!

Posted by: Utahreb | December 17, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

America is supposed to be a free country. Mickydees is free to put a toy in a kids meal and this woman is free to say no and not buy one. I'm free to buy one if I want. The case should be tossed and she should have to pay all the court costs.

Posted by: FLvet | December 17, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

It's just so sad that parents want the government to take over one of the most fundamental parental responsibilities: saying "no" to your kids. If you can't even tell a pre-schooler, "no, I will not take you to McDonald's and stop crying," then you have much bigger problems than your child's obesity. Heaven help you when the toddler becomes a teen.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 17, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

How is this different from tobacco advertising? Joe Camel was a cartoon character.... Very few people realized what the tobacco industry was up to until the later half of this century. How is the parent-child interaction different in this instance? Maybe tobacco aimed at slightly older childern but the approach is exactly the same...

Posted by: sherpa | December 17, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I am basically in agreement with the posters who say the lawsuit is frivolous. It IS the parents' responsibility to say no to the child, and to make good decisions about what the child eats and watches on television.

The problem is that young children can't distinguish between the "good show" the parents wants them to watch for their educational value and the commercials. If some puppet tells them to clean their room and do their homework, and then some clown comes on and tells them they gotta have a Happy Meal, they think their parents are idiots for making them do their homework while disregarding the Happy Meal necessity.

Let's say the parent decides that the child can watch only one or two television shows of real merit. In that case, he or she must watch the show with the child and turn down the volume, turn off the set, pause (if there's TIVO), or otherwise prevent the child from watching each and every commercial.

In the child's mind, it's a little bit like having a show that teaches them the moral value of being nice to their friends, followed by another show that tells them to beat their friends up.

It's easy for parents to prohibit their kids from watching ANY TV, but what happens when the kids go visiting?

So I agree with the posters who think that a lot of advertising to children is irresponsible. A toy commercial? OK. Most children are savvy enough to know what toys he'd enjoy. But advertising unhealthy foods to them is bad jumbo that just causes responsible parents grief.

Posted by: carlaclaws | December 17, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

If anyone should be sued it's the FDA for coming up with the food pyramid and telling us we need 8 servings of bread every day, and teaching elementary school kids that pizza is healthy because it contains all four food groups.

Posted by: pswift00 | December 16, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

>>>>>

Uh, actually, the food pyramid is from the Department of Agriculture, NOT FDA.

Posted by: law1946 | December 17, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

If anyone should be sued it's the FDA for coming up with the food pyramid and telling us we need 8 servings of bread every day, and teaching elementary school kids that pizza is healthy because it contains all four food groups.

Posted by: pswift00 | December 16, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

>>>>>

Uh, actually, the food pyramid is from the Department of Agriculture, NOT FDA.

Posted by: law1946 | December 17, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

If anyone should be sued it's the FDA for coming up with the food pyramid and telling us we need 8 servings of bread every day, and teaching elementary school kids that pizza is healthy because it contains all four food groups.

Posted by: pswift00 | December 16, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

>>>>>

Uh, actually, the food pyramid is from the Department of Agriculture, NOT FDA.

-------------------------------
Thanks so much for pointing that out. I guess my original point is completely moot now.

Posted by: pswift00 | December 17, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

The lawyers, the CSPI & the mother all need to slapped.

This might be the dumbest thing to ever happen in the USA.

Posted by: peter1313 | December 17, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I teach the US food pyramid to my students studying English. I explain this is why so many Americans are overweight and show them the new one with water at the base and fruits and vegetables as the second tier.

I wonder who lobbied Agriculture to put bread and other grains at the base of theirs?

As for this lady, Child Protective Services should take her kids away because of her inability to keep them away from McDonald's.

Posted by: areyousaying | December 17, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

How is this different from tobacco advertising?

Did you buy your kid a pack a day because he whined and cried for Joe Camel and you couldn't control him?

Posted by: areyousaying | December 17, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so I think that:

- The CSPI are a bunch of annoying scolds

- the woman filing the suit has exposed herself as either a very bad parent or as a disingenuous person pretending to be a bad parent

- personal responsibility is ultimately the only viable message re: dietary choice

- That McDonald's role in our national obesity problem has probably been exaggerated

However, I wouldn't mind if I never had to step on one of those damned hard plastic toys in my bare feet again....almost makes me want to file a lawsuit.

Posted by: jbrenner1 | December 17, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the idea that targeted advertisements can help set up a child for a lifetime of bad dietary choices.

McDonald's menu is garbage, but parents control what their kids eat or don't eat.

If an adult can't control their kid without overwhelming guilt, then maybe they shouldn't have had kids to begin with. Parenting is a tough job and very few people are born with the insights to do it effectively.

That isn't Mcdonald's fault.

Posted by: veerle1 | December 17, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

As always, people rush to judge an issue that is actually more complicated than they think. I know I did when I first read this article. Yes, I think the primary responsibility should still be with the parent, and all in all this case should be thrown out on its ear if for no other reason than the highly suspicious intents of this woman.
HOWEVER, I also think that many of the people posting on this site about the "just say no to your kids" argument probably don't have children. I don't either, but I can sympathize with parents, especially poorer parents who work two jobs, who may not have a supermarket in their area, who don't have the time to make a homecooked meal, who can't afford anything but the cheapest, most filling crap for their kids. Even if you have kids, folks, try living like that for a few years and then tell everyone else how easy it is to "just say no."

The answer to these issues isn't to sue Micky D's. It's to improve the choices and access to information for both parents and children so that people have more choice. When there is nothing but crap available, you don't "choose" to feed it to your kids, it happens. So before you take the easy way out ideologically speaking, know that it is exactly that attitude that would also cause YOU, if you were in the situation of a poor, tired parent with limited choice, to pull into that drivethru and order up a couple of happymeals.

Posted by: ashtar377 | December 17, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I can't stand McDonald's and their crap food so anything that slows them down is good for me. I can't get over:

1--The woman who got third-degree burns from their coffee. Everyone criticizes that woman for holding the coffee between her legs but hello, THIRD-DEGREE BURNS! Skin grafts! Nobody can drink coffee that hot! What if that had spilled on your child? Third-degree burns, that's what!

2--Their horrible food. Everyone remember that experiment where they video a McDonald's burger for 30 or 50 days straight and it doesn't decompose? That's what you're putting in your system, folks.

3--SuperSize Me and their fingers-in-the-ears denydenydeny mode. 'Nuff said.

I love the CSPI and I will admit, it makes a difference in what I eat--most of the time, anyway! I still love my Chinese but I have pretty much given up on movie popcorn. An informed consumer is a healthier one.

Posted by: NYC123 | December 17, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Why can't this mom tell her children "NO" when they ask to eat at McDonalds?
Why can't this mom just turn off the TV so kids don't see the McDonalds advertising?

Why is this mom expecting the government to parent her children for her?

Posted by: momof20yo | December 17, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

When my son was young, he wanted 'new' stuff every time we went into a store. He saw stuff on TV commercials, too. Yes, he was affected by the intentional "you've got to have this" hype sales tricks, just as adults are.

I fixed the problem. When I took him shopping with me, we went to the toy section first. He got to pick out a toy to look at while we were in the store. When we got to the checkout lane, he had to give the toy back----no whining, no throwing fits, etc. to get me to buy the toy for him--that was the deal. Nine times out of ten all he wanted to do was see the toy and then he decided on his own that it wasn't as great as the commercial said it was. When he saw that the toy in the box wasn't animated like what he saw on TV, he wasn't interested in it.
Kids are curious, but kids aren't stupid. Be smart parents. Save your money. save yourself from a whole lot of whining. Teach them that many things they see on TV aren't real.

Do adults still believe they drive a 'new' car? Is it really a 'new' car--even on the sales lot? Nine times out of ten, that car on the lot has already been driven many miles by someone else. Once you sign those purchase documents, you've bought yourself a used car.


How is misleading advertising directed at kids any different than the misleading advertising directed to adults? Adults fall for the "you've just got to have this" just as quickly as kids do.

Posted by: momof20yo | December 17, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I disagre with "areyousaying" comparing this to conservatives wanting to censor museums. If McD's was using our tax dollars for advertisement it might be comparable. There is a big difference between a private company spending their own money for advertisement and a museum using taxpayer dollars to display what most taxpayers find objectionable. You have every right to produce "art" that desecrates Jesus, Mohammad, or whatever but you don't have a right to use my money to do it. Controlling how our taxes are spent is not censorship.

Posted by: bjandrews23 | December 17, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

imagine a liberal from california suing mcdonalds simply because she cant parent!!im sure she voted for obama!! she also seems to be a few big macs over her weight limit!!probably best friends with michelle obama!

Posted by: t_davenport | December 18, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Monet Parham should concentrate her energies getting on the Super Nanny show.

Of course, a court settlement with McDonalds might have more monetary value.

Posted by: lindalriggs | December 18, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I should sue 24 hour for making want to be in shape or sue Metro PCS for having unlimted everything.
This lady needs to be a parent to her kids. Dont let them tell you what they want to eat because they seen a ad for McDonalds. Dont load the kids up in the car and drive them all the way there with hate and evny to McDonalds. Why dont you cook your fat little kids a homecooked meal instead of getting them fastfood!

Posted by: KingJesse | December 20, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

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