McDonald's has received some bashing over the years about their Happy Meals not being healthy and marketing to kids through the promotion of toys - my response to that is grow up and be a parent. Don't let your kids dictate to your family's meal time decisions. McDonald's should be a "treat" and not a regular part of your kid's diet so if you are eating there enough that you are concerned that the restaurant is luring you in through toys and marketing aimed at kids you have bigger problems than just what your kids are eating.
I find it enjoyable to go to McDonald's when there is a fun toy promotion going on as something out of the ordinary to do. We don't go all the time and my kids relate our trips there to a special treat or reward. In fact I'm more likely to take them if there is a cool toy in the Happy Meals - and sorry McDonalds but more often than not your toys aren't that great - but my children don't expect to go to McDonalds all the time to eat or for a toy. I don't care if the food isn't that healthy because most things you eat as a "treat" aren't, like movie popcorn or sundaes at an ice cream parlor. I love to take my kids to grab a slurpee from 7-Eleven and that sure isn't healthy but we do it once a month or so as a fun side trip with Dad. As parents though, my wife and I focus on making all the other meal times healthy and teaching our kids about living that promotes exercise, eating responsibly and leading a lifestyle that avoids using alcohol and drugs for enjoyment or entertainment.
Kids are being forced to go to school earlier and longer with more pressure and competition to excel than ever before. My kids are doing two years of preschool and now the school districts require 5 day a week full day daycare. More and more kids are forced into daycare because their parents are working full time jobs. The violence and terrorism reported on the news most be scary for children, I know as an adult I find it horrific. If a Happy Meal with a toy can help my kids enjoy being a kid and enjoy a special moment of childhood - god bless you McDonalds!
While my wife and I have been to McDonalds frequently this year, we've only been to McDonalds four times with our kids...when they had the Despicable Me and Smurf toys out (which are kids still frequently play with so they were pretty good toys). I have to admit those toys were a factor in making a visit to McDonalds because since we take the children there a limited amount we wanted to make the visits really count. So I guess the toy marketing does work for them ... but hey they are a business looking to make money! I'm tempted to make a stop in October with the kids too because it looks like they are going to have some fun toys that month in their Happy Meal boxes: BATMAN & THE WIZARD OF OZ
The BATMAN toys will feature a caped crusader mask, toy motorcycle and batmobile, and some action figures.
THE WIZARD OF OZ toys will feature figurines of all the main characters from the original classic movie.
Now don't get me wrong, childhood obesity is a horrible problem in this country, but instead of focusing on something that is providing some "fun" in life people need to address the larger issues contributing to the problem. Parents need to set the standards and limits for their kids. Our society also needs to establish more of a priority in respecting education, exercise, and healthy living as standards for everyone to strive to achieve. And if McDonald's wants their food to be more than a specials "treat" for my children they need to create a healthier menu. But in the end, my wife and I are setting the example and setting the rules, rather than allowing a restaurant to take that responsibility over for us. I don't mind my kids enjoying a Happy Meal every once in awhile as long as they also get the understanding that isn't the way you eat a healthy every day diet...and that is where parenting comes in.
Here are some links that can provide some advice and help if obesity is a problem for your family:
Nobody wants to deal with a screaming or whining child, but sometimes the best thing you can ever do for your child is just say NO so they understand that there aren't rewards for bad behavior and you can't always get everything you want.