Online Program

NYC Council's “Healthy Happy Meals” Bill: Potential Impact on Fast Food Purchases

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Brian Elbel, PhD, MPH, NYU School of Medicine and NYU Wagner School of Public Service, New York University, New York, NY
Jon Cantor, MS, School of Public Policy, NYU Wagner School of Public Policy, New York, NY
Marie Bragg, PhD, Dept of Population Health, NYU School of Medicine; NYU Global Institute of Public Health, New York, NY
Background: The New York City (NYC) Council proposed the “Healthy Happy Meals” Bill to improve the nutritional quality of children’s meals at fast food restaurants by requiring meals that include a toy meet certain nutritional criteria. The current study explored the impact of the bill on calories purchased.

Methods:  Data were from a prior study from multiple NYC and New Jersey locations of fast food restaurants, and included receipts from adults and purchases for 422 children made by 282 adults. Using the “Healthy Happy Meals” Bill requirements, researchers determined the percentages of purchases that included a toy and those that would not include a toy.

Results: Children were a mean age of 7.0 years and 87% of caregivers were Black or Hispanic. A mean of 600 calories were purchased, 36% of which were from fat. Additionally, 869 mg. of sodium were purchased for each child. Approximately 35% of children ate a children’s meal. Ninety-eight percent of these children’s meals did not meet the proposed nutrition criteria for at least one nutrient. Fifty-one percent exceeded the limit for calories, 55% for sodium, 78% for calories from fat, 14% for saturated fat and 49% for added sugars. Using the new criteria, there would be an average decrease of 54 calorie intake and an 18 calorie decrease across all children.

Discussion: We estimate that the policy could result in a reduction of calories purchased for children, improving the healthfulness of children’s diets.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Analyze nutritional value of food purchases made by adults Discuss the possible impact of the “Happy Healthy Meals” Bill in reducing calories purchased for children

Keyword(s): Public Policy, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am responsible for the development, analyses and writing of the manuscript associated with this proposal.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.