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.


language (6) media advocacy (23) Berkeley (2) Joe Paterno (1) education (1) autism (1) Big Soda (2) political correctness (1) filibuster (1) news monitoring (1) democracy (1) Rachel Grana (1) adverse childhood experiences (3) children's health (3) institutional accountability (1) Richmond (5) emergency contraception (1) SSBs (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) inequities (1) gun violence (1) liana winett (1) Nickelodeon (1) election 2016 (1) health care (1) child sexual abuse (5) public health policy (2) Jerry Sandusky (3) equity (3) Bill Cosby (1) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) Sandy Hook (2) tobacco (5) sports drinks (1) Proposition 47 (1) collaboration (1) advocacy (3) seat belt laws (1) auto safety (1) news analysis (3) industry appeals to choice (1) physical activity (1) Telluride (1) food environment (1) framing (14) cosmetics (1) privilege (1) elephant triggers (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) healthy eating (1) Newtown (1) california (1) cigarette advertising (1) authentic voices (1) Twitter (1) front groups (1) suicide barrier (2) messaging (3) food swamps (1) new year's resolutions (1) race (1) sexual violence (2) target marketing (9) Tea Party (1) soda industry (4) food marketing (5) obesity (10) Let's Move (1) gatorade bolt game (1) diabetes (1) gun control (2) suicide nets (1) soda taxes (2) product safety (1) sandusky (2) structural racism (1) Amanda Fallin (1) media analysis (6) water (1) world water day (1) PepsiCo (1) safety (1) values (1) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) community violence (1) Golden Gate Bridge (2) prison system (1) community (1) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) McDonald's (1) Coca-Cola (3) Black Lives Matter (1) Aurora (1) violence prevention (8) San Francisco (3) journalism (1) junk food (2) apha (3) American Beverage Association (1) chronic disease (2) built environment (2) Marion Nestle (1) corporate social responsibility (1) violence (2) sugary drinks (10) obesity prevention (1) breastfeeding (3) Penn State (3) digital marketing (3) tobacco tax (1) abortion (1) Chile (1) Big Tobacco (3) government intrusion (1) Measure O (1) health equity (10) cervical cancer (1) food justice (1) soda (12) social media (2) sexual health (1) nanny state (2) prevention (1) online marketing (1) cancer research (1) alcohol (5) choice (1) food industry (4) cap the tap (1) summer camps (1) campaign finance (1) Oglala Sioux (3) Wendy Davis (1) communication (2) junk food marketing (4) paula deen (1) regulation (2) Dora the Explorer (1) soda tax (11) Proposition 29 (1) social justice (2) childhood obesity (1) naacp (1) soda warning labels (1) tobacco control (2) snap (1) Texas (1) news (2) suicide prevention (2) public health data (1) Connecticut shooting (1) george lakoff (1) food and beverage marketing (3) Happy Meals (1) media (7) vaccines (1) food access (1) community organizing (1) Gardasil (1) social change (1) gender (1) mental health (2) community safety (1) sanitation (1) ssb (1) personal responsibility (3) women's health (2) public health (71) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) childhood lead poisoning (1) news strategy (1) SB-5 (1) FCC (1) Big Food (2) cancer prevention (1) Colorado (1) nonprofit communications (1) strategic communication (1) Whiteclay (4) water security (1) childhood adversity (1) racism (1) marketing (1) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) Bloomberg (3) childhood trauma (3) cannes lions festival (1) diabetes prevention (1) Citizens United (1) food deserts (1) sexism (2) SB 402 (1) stigma (1) beauty products (1) environmental health (1) genital warts (1) Catholic church (1) media bites (1) childhood obestiy conference (1) Sam Kass (1) food (1) SB 1000 (1) tobacco industry (2) reproductive justice (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) community health (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) news coverage (1) indoor smoking ban (1) Pine Ridge reservation (1) Merck (1) sexual assault (1) beverage industry (2) paper tigers (1) junk food marketing to kids (2) communication strategy (1) measure N (2) Michelle Obama (1) social math (1) youth (1) ACEs (2) Donald Trump (2) default frame (1) prison phone calls (1) HPV vaccine (1) El Monte (3) weight of the nation (1) white house (1)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: