April 6, 2011 -- An overweight New York politician is on a crusade to eliminate toys from fast food meals that he says promotes unhealthy eating habits in children.
"If we can get the fast food industry to lead in this healthy quest by doing happy meals that have a nutritional value we would definitely change the tide of childhood obesity," New York City Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie told ABC News.
"It would be a tremendous help to parents and families if they could have a healthy option with the toy, because the kids want the toy," said Comrie. "The kids scream up and down for the toy."
Comrie, who has been reported to have tipped the scale at 350 pounds, admits that his own health issues had a role in the proposal's development.
"I've always struggled with food and my weight," said Comrie.
"Eating unhealthy food becomes engrained in children's minds because they're getting used to having a toy with a cheeseburger or their chicken nuggets," said Comrie. "Why not put the toy with a salad?"
Under Comrie's proposal, fast food meals that come with a toy could not exceed 500 calories or 600 milligrams of sodium. Meals offering toys would also have to contain either a half cup of fruit or vegetables or one whole serving of a whole-grain product.
Violators would be charged $200 for their first offense and as much as $2,500 for repeat violations.
While Comrie does not name McDonald's in his complaint, the restaurant chain is well-known for their trade marked Happy Meals that are marketed toward children.
McDonald's did not respond to a request for a comment on Comrie's proposal.
Andrew Rigie, the vice president of the New York State Restaurant Association, challenged Comrie's plan.
In an email statement to ABC News Rigie said, "We need to find more effective ways to combat obesity than by taking toys away from children and choices away from their parents."
"The New York State Restaurant Association looks forward to working with the City Council and other groups in a meaningful way to help educate children and parents about nutrition and healthy lifestyles," said Rigie.
Later this year, San Francisco, Calif., will become the first major U.S. city to ban toys that comes with fast food meals lacking a certain nutritional value. Restaurants will only be permitted to include a toy with a meal if it contains 600 calories or less and if less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat.
Comrie says he hopes his proposal will be heard by committee by June and will be voted on in the fall.
"We saw that California could get it done and they can make the transition [to healthier fast food meals]," said Comrie. "At the end of the day, I don't think it hurts the restaurant's bottom line one bit."
"The kids don't care about the food, they care about the toys."