Mick Wallace has suggested Ireland follow San Francisco’s lead and ban giving away a free toy with fast food. In a recent parliamentary question, Wallace asked Health Minister Leo Varadkar if he thinks such promotions “can place undue pressure on parents who seek to limit their children’s access to such foods”. One in four children in Ireland is overweight or obese. Obesity is estimated to cost the country over €1 billion annually.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health is going to investigate the marketing, promotion and sponsorship of unhealthy food and “will consider all relevant issues”. Obesity is “a major public health challenge” and that his department will finalise an Obesity Policy and Action Plan this year. It is also preparing legislation in relation to posting calories on menus. In December 2011, a law banning the inclusion of free toys with fast food came into effect in San Francisco, and other states are considering a similar move. McDonald’s quickly found a way to sidestep – and make money off – the law, however, by charging an extra ten cents for the toy.