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.

Sam Kass (1) sanitation (1) American Beverage Association (1) Measure O (1) social math (1) SB 1000 (1) gun violence (1) indoor smoking ban (1) physical activity (1) sexual health (1) Joe Paterno (1) Merck (1) environmental health (1) choice (1) language (6) social justice (1) suicide prevention (2) childhood lead poisoning (1) Let's Move (1) Bloomberg (3) HPV vaccine (1) digital marketing (2) junk food (2) equity (3) public health (58) Happy Meals (1) white house (1) online marketing (1) Marion Nestle (1) auto safety (1) Gardasil (1) government intrusion (1) Whiteclay (4) Berkeley (2) sexual violence (1) PepsiCo (1) Texas (1) Chile (1) Richmond (5) built environment (2) framing (11) SB 402 (1) george lakoff (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) Catholic church (1) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) stigma (1) water (1) world water day (1) sports drinks (1) Coca-Cola (3) childhood adversity (1) health equity (9) diabetes (1) violence prevention (6) food and beverage marketing (3) childhood obesity (1) institutional accountability (1) paula deen (1) cap the tap (1) beverage industry (1) childhood trauma (1) tobacco industry (2) gatorade bolt game (1) target marketing (7) liana winett (1) youth (1) FCC (1) values (1) junk food marketing (3) El Monte (3) marketing (1) community health (1) prevention (1) Proposition 29 (1) ssb (1) personal responsibility (3) genital warts (1) McDonald's (1) water security (1) prison phone calls (1) junk food marketing to kids (2) ACEs (1) communication (2) campaign finance (1) vaccines (1) reproductive justice (1) regulation (2) soda tax (11) naacp (1) health care (1) beauty products (1) product safety (1) mental health (2) food justice (1) Dora the Explorer (1) suicide barrier (2) news (1) california (1) healthy eating (1) front groups (1) chronic disease (2) seat belt laws (1) cigarette advertising (1) women's health (2) gender (1) structural racism (1) sugary drinks (9) violence (1) diabetes prevention (1) inequities (1) Connecticut shooting (1) media advocacy (18) race (1) food access (1) Big Food (2) weight of the nation (1) sandusky (2) news analysis (1) childhood obestiy conference (1) Amanda Fallin (1) Citizens United (1) tobacco control (2) measure N (2) Twitter (1) cancer prevention (1) food swamps (1) Aurora (1) suicide nets (1) media bites (1) advocacy (3) Tea Party (1) social media (2) summer camps (1) apha (1) Nickelodeon (1) default frame (1) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) Big Soda (2) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) child sexual abuse (5) media analysis (3) adverse childhood experiences (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) snap (1) SSBs (1) soda warning labels (1) food deserts (1) Big Tobacco (3) children's health (3) alcohol (4) cervical cancer (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) Bill Cosby (1) Oglala Sioux (3) industry appeals to choice (1) prison system (1) community safety (1) Pine Ridge reservation (1) food (1) Colorado (1) autism (1) food marketing (3) privilege (1) cosmetics (1) Newtown (1) news strategy (1) filibuster (1) Michelle Obama (1) tobacco (4) Jerry Sandusky (3) Oakland Unified School District (1) emergency contraception (1) Telluride (1) SB-5 (1) cancer research (1) new year's resolutions (1) gun control (2) obesity (9) education (1) media (4) food environment (1) Penn State (3) Rachel Grana (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) Wendy Davis (1) Golden Gate Bridge (2) sexual assault (1) elephant triggers (1) Sandy Hook (2) news coverage (1) sexism (1) breastfeeding (3) public health data (1) corporate social responsibility (1) public health policy (2) obesity prevention (1) soda (12) social change (1) abortion (1) San Francisco (3) collaboration (1) nanny state (2) messaging (3) community violence (1) tobacco tax (1) soda industry (4) food industry (2)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: