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.


soda tax (11) suicide prevention (2) target marketing (7) alcohol (5) paper tigers (1) diabetes (1) food industry (4) public health (65) environmental health (1) HPV vaccine (1) prison phone calls (1) Tea Party (1) naacp (1) social math (1) apha (2) diabetes prevention (1) Twitter for advocacy (1) news analysis (2) Oglala Sioux (3) race (1) emergency contraception (1) childhood obestiy conference (1) Berkeley (2) journalism (1) child sexual abuse (5) public health data (1) ssb (1) SB 1000 (1) white house (1) adverse childhood experiences (3) water (1) healthy eating (1) PepsiCo (1) sports drinks (1) genital warts (1) campaign finance (1) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) Connecticut shooting (1) chronic disease (2) messaging (3) digital marketing (2) junk food marketing to kids (2) weight of the nation (1) junk food marketing (3) public health policy (2) food access (1) indoor smoking ban (1) regulation (2) social justice (1) social change (1) Pine Ridge reservation (1) snap (1) food and beverage marketing (3) news monitoring (1) obesity (10) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) health care (1) childhood obesity (1) tobacco tax (1) soda warning labels (1) auto safety (1) childhood lead poisoning (1) gun control (2) Sandy Hook (2) Wendy Davis (1) community health (1) media advocacy (20) cervical cancer (1) abortion (1) food justice (1) tobacco industry (2) FCC (1) violence prevention (8) elephant triggers (1) marketing (1) california (1) collaboration (1) Newtown (1) gender (1) Rachel Grana (1) world water day (1) Nickelodeon (1) Big Soda (2) Twitter (1) media bites (1) new year's resolutions (1) online marketing (1) Merck (1) filibuster (1) beauty products (1) privilege (1) health equity (10) institutional accountability (1) autism (1) Donald Trump (2) Gardasil (1) Happy Meals (1) food deserts (1) cigarette advertising (1) built environment (2) Proposition 47 (1) measure N (2) Whiteclay (4) soda industry (4) community safety (1) SB 402 (1) beverage industry (2) equity (3) election 2016 (1) industry appeals to choice (1) soda taxes (1) childhood trauma (3) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) sandusky (2) Big Food (2) news coverage (1) corporate social responsibility (1) junk food (2) front groups (1) social media (2) American Beverage Association (1) SSBs (1) inequities (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) Aurora (1) education (1) product safety (1) water security (1) cosmetics (1) Marion Nestle (1) Let's Move (1) vaccines (1) physical activity (1) liana winett (1) values (1) framing (14) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) cap the tap (1) youth (1) ACEs (2) obesity prevention (1) news (2) prevention (1) McDonald's (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) democracy (1) food swamps (1) summer camps (1) Dora the Explorer (1) gatorade bolt game (1) gun violence (1) political correctness (1) Joe Paterno (1) racism (1) Texas (1) soda (12) tobacco control (2) suicide nets (1) violence (1) sugary drinks (10) Telluride (1) news strategy (1) sexism (2) george lakoff (1) Big Tobacco (3) media (7) personal responsibility (3) sexual violence (2) San Francisco (3) sanitation (1) nanny state (2) Amanda Fallin (1) breastfeeding (3) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) Richmond (5) sexual assault (1) Bill Cosby (1) sexual health (1) Penn State (3) Golden Gate Bridge (2) food environment (1) Coca-Cola (3) prison system (1) communication (2) cancer research (1) food marketing (3) language (6) stigma (1) Proposition 29 (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) default frame (1) Catholic church (1) paula deen (1) cancer prevention (1) food (1) Sam Kass (1) women's health (2) El Monte (3) community violence (1) Chile (1) tobacco (5) Bloomberg (3) Colorado (1) SB-5 (1) structural racism (1) choice (1) advocacy (3) government intrusion (1) childhood adversity (1) Michelle Obama (1) Measure O (1) Citizens United (1) mental health (2) children's health (3) media analysis (5) reproductive justice (1) suicide barrier (2) seat belt laws (1) Jerry Sandusky (3)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: