McDonald's says no to kids' health

printer friendlyprinter friendly

Last year, San Francisco passed a groundbreaking ordinance to require restaurants offering free toys in kids' meals to make sure that those meals met certain minimum -- and very reasonable -- nutrition requirements. Now, McDonald's has decided to sidestep the law and charge a dime for each of its Happy Meal toys so that it doesn't have to make the meals any healthier (read: less bad) for kids. The kicker: They're painting this as an act of charity and donating those dimes to the local Ronald McDonald House.

Lawyer and writer Michele Simon has taken the food giant to task for this stunt and questioned whether the 10-cent toy gimmick really is in full compliance with the law. And good for her for doing so. After all, this law was designed specifically to "disassociate toys from unhealthy food," as Simon put it.

But what if McDonald's is in full compliance? Then what? Are they in the clear? Do they get to go on with business as usual?

Hardly. Pressure is on from parents and advocates everywhere. They are holding McDonald's and other food and beverage companies responsible for the health harms that their products cause. Why? Because we have a health crisis in this country and food companies are unwilling to reign in their junk food marketing to help abate it. So, whether McDonald's actions are legal are not, the real issue here -- children's health -- should not get lost in the conversation.

Even as childhood obesity rates and related health problems continue to climb, McDonald's and other companies seem as insistent as ever on circumventing parents and marketing high-calorie, low-nutrition food and drinks to young kids. Research from Yale's Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity has showed that McDonald's is using online marketing to attract children and teens. And numerous case studies -- compiled by BMSG in partnership with the Center for Digital Democracy and National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity -- show that McDonald's is among many companies that use aggressive digital marketing to target youth and get them to engage and bond with brands.

What does all of this mean? First, it reaffirms what so many already know: that advocates, parents, policymakers and health professionals of all stripes have their work cut out for them. Big Food's gloves are off, and it will take continued action on the part of all of these groups to chip away at the power that allows them to continually flout health.

Second, it means that food and beverage companies have their work cut out for them too. Michele Simon is just one of many heavyweights in the public health arena who -- I think it's safe to say -- is not about to let Big Food off the hook. Every Happy Meal-type shenanigan just emboldens those who care about public health even more. And the general public is growing impatient with seeing such institutions flex disproportionate amounts of power in ways that hurt society collectively. The resilience and tenacity of the Occupy movement speak to this. When people band together in the name of a shared goal and decide they've had enough of something, history shows the underdog can absolutely prevail. Public health and community groups have proven this with tobacco, with childhood lead poisoning, with seat belt laws, etc. -- and we're adding the food environment to that list.

health equity (10) naacp (1) target marketing (7) tobacco control (2) sugary drinks (10) diabetes prevention (1) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) Oglala Sioux (3) abortion (1) water (1) food deserts (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) diabetes (1) youth (1) california (1) autism (1) Golden Gate Bridge (2) Joe Paterno (1) childhood obesity (1) cervical cancer (1) suicide prevention (2) environmental health (1) race (1) food marketing (3) Telluride (1) Dora the Explorer (1) sexual assault (1) Newtown (1) suicide barrier (2) women's health (2) adverse childhood experiences (3) language (6) SB-5 (1) indoor smoking ban (1) corporate social responsibility (1) sexual health (1) social change (1) Merck (1) Amanda Fallin (1) Gardasil (1) public health (65) sexual violence (2) Marion Nestle (1) mental health (2) McDonald's (1) HPV vaccine (1) cap the tap (1) childhood trauma (3) violence (1) sandusky (2) Connecticut shooting (1) sanitation (1) summer camps (1) healthy eating (1) digital marketing (2) PepsiCo (1) news strategy (1) soda tax (11) institutional accountability (1) built environment (2) Tea Party (1) media advocacy (20) Aurora (1) Catholic church (1) food swamps (1) reproductive justice (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) advocacy (3) framing (13) prevention (1) cigarette advertising (1) privilege (1) Pine Ridge reservation (1) snap (1) Michelle Obama (1) weight of the nation (1) world water day (1) tobacco industry (2) child sexual abuse (5) Big Soda (2) Whiteclay (4) Penn State (3) Johnson & Johnson (1) soda (12) vaccines (1) news monitoring (1) government intrusion (1) Measure O (1) new year's resolutions (1) filibuster (1) cancer research (1) regulation (2) food industry (4) alcohol (5) junk food marketing to kids (2) choice (1) measure N (2) suicide nets (1) beauty products (1) Wendy Davis (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) paper tigers (1) Berkeley (2) media (6) Let's Move (1) Jerry Sandusky (3) SSBs (1) physical activity (1) SB 1000 (1) junk food marketing (3) cosmetics (1) structural racism (1) public health policy (2) online marketing (1) social justice (1) Proposition 47 (1) obesity prevention (1) communication (2) industry appeals to choice (1) george lakoff (1) Richmond (5) Happy Meals (1) racism (1) American Beverage Association (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) soda industry (4) El Monte (3) childhood adversity (1) gatorade bolt game (1) community health (1) ACEs (2) health care (1) elephant triggers (1) chronic disease (2) children's health (3) food and beverage marketing (3) stigma (1) auto safety (1) soda warning labels (1) junk food (2) Citizens United (1) Twitter (1) media analysis (5) nanny state (2) political correctness (1) white house (1) news (2) Texas (1) values (1) tobacco (5) seat belt laws (1) SB 402 (1) San Francisco (3) product safety (1) Donald Trump (1) news analysis (2) media bites (1) social math (1) ssb (1) Big Food (2) violence prevention (8) Bill Cosby (1) childhood obestiy conference (1) default frame (1) community violence (1) breastfeeding (3) beverage industry (2) news coverage (1) paula deen (1) prison system (1) sexism (2) prison phone calls (1) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) Colorado (1) Nickelodeon (1) FCC (1) inequities (1) community safety (1) apha (2) marketing (1) genital warts (1) social media (2) gender (1) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) sports drinks (1) Big Tobacco (3) food (1) Chile (1) public health data (1) Sam Kass (1) education (1) front groups (1) Bloomberg (3) campaign finance (1) water security (1) gun control (2) tobacco tax (1) equity (3) childhood lead poisoning (1) Rachel Grana (1) gun violence (1) collaboration (1) Coca-Cola (3) food environment (1) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) emergency contraception (1) personal responsibility (3) food justice (1) obesity (10) messaging (3) cancer prevention (1) Sandy Hook (2) liana winett (1) food access (1) Proposition 29 (1)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: