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Ronald McDonald and Happy Meals 'should be banned', say health campaigners


Jul 27, 2001
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He has been the smiling face of the McDonald's fast food empire for more than 40 years, but doctors in the US are demanding that Ronald McDonald finally be ordered into retirement – for the good of everyone's health.

On the eve of McDonald's annual shareholder meeting, healthy-eating campaigners have launched an open letter to the group, demanding that it stops marketing to children.

Hundreds of health professionals have already signed the letter, which claims the company's menu of burgers and fries is making America's children fat and contributing to ballooning health costs in the States.

Corporate Accountability International, the campaign group, plans to push the issue of Ronald McDonald's retirement at today's meeting and is organising protests. The open letter, which has now attracted over 550 signatures, appeared yesterday in national newspapers across the US.

"Our community is devoted to caring for sick children and preventing illness through public education," it says. "But our efforts cannot compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars you spend each year directly marketing to kids. Advertising is at the heart of McDonald's business model, with annual expenditures reaching $2bn. Your marketing practices set the standard for competitors across industries."

Since the mid-Sixties, McDonald's has hired actors to dress up as its friendly clown for children's birthday parties at its restaurants and at other events. At one point, the character spawned a cartoon series and the company claims his image is as famous to children around the world as that of any character, aside from Father Christmas.

The company denies the mascot is a bad influence on children. In fact, it says, he is quite the opposite, since he now extols the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. "Ronald is an ambassador for good and delivers important messages to kids on safety, literacy and balanced, active lifestyles," it said in a statement.

The company also points to charitable work done in the clown's name. There are some 500 paid-for Ronald McDonald houses and family rooms in or near hospitals. The company also insists its menus are not junk food, but offer a range of healthier items for children, including apple dippers and low-fat milk in its Happy Meals.

None of these developments have moved McDonald's from the centre of the debate over childhood obesity and its causes, however. The company is being sued in California over its marketing practices, including the use of the clown character and the placing of toys in Happy Meals tied to children's movies. Some cities in the state have banned free toys with meals over a certain number of calories.

And today, nine orders of nuns will assail management, asking that they pay more heed to the influence of their marketing tactics on children. They are leading a group of small shareholders proposing that McDonald's funds research into the link between its business and childhood obesity and on the risks that public health concerns lead to a backlash that hits profits.

The open letter signed by doctors contends that children under-12 effectively control $40bn of annual consumer spending, because of their ability to nag their parents and that habits formed in childhood can last a lifetime.

Many of the same newspapers that reported support for the open letter yesterday also told the story of a Wisconsin man who made history by finishing off his 25,000th Big Mac. Don Gorske, 57, insisted he was healthy, saying: "I had my cholesterol just checked a couple weeks ago and it was 156."


and the short tabloid version

RONALD McDonald and Happy Meals must be axed to save kids' health, say 550 of the world's top medics.

The experts told McDonald's in an open letter that its gimmicks fuel obesity. They said Happy Meals, which come with a free toy, get kids hooked on junk food.

The campaign group, called Corporate Accountability International, previously targeted PepsiCo and Coca-Cola over the firms' plastic bottles.

Yesterday CAI ran full-page adverts in US newspapers with the letter to McDonald's HQ.

It stated: "Marketing can no longer be ignored as a significant part of this huge problem."

The letter also urged the firm to stop advertising foods high in fat, salt and sugar to children.

Last night a spokesman for McDonald's, which has used iconic Ronald McDonald since the 1960s, said it was committed to "responsible advertising".

He added: "Ronald McDonald has never left McDonald's. He has been our mascot for 35 years.

"We serve high quality food. Our Happy Meals offer choice and variety in portions for kids."

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepag...told-Axe-Ronald-Happy-Meal.html#ixzz1MmsnGBGR

isn't it great to not have to think for yourself and let some jobsworth do it for you
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...-ronald-mcdonald-say-campaigners-2286083.htmland the short tabloid version

isn't it great to not have to think for yourself and let some jobsworth do it for you

It's easier to complain about a bogeyman than take personal responsibility for your/your kids health. Until they can prove that Ronald forced the food into someone's mouth and tied them to a chair so they couldn't go to the gym/outside to play, CAI and their supporters need to shut their freaking traps.
Why yes, we should make it easier for bad parents to go through life not taking any accountability for their children's well-being! This is a great idea!

Why don't we tackle the actual problem in our society; the lack of exercise.

You can talk about how much fat we eat and portion sizes until the genetically-modified super tasty cows come, the real issue is that people just aren't exercising.
McDonalds should be banned. But not for health reasons. For taste reasons.
Give the lil' bastards Big Macs instead so they can grow up big n' strong like Dan Gorske. :awesome:

Heh, I wondered how long it would take for someone to bring that up.:awesome:

25,000...my god! I like Big Macs too but taking it to that level is just a symptom of a deranged mind.:hoboj:
It's the parents responsibility to make sure kids eat healthy
This schtick has been attempted many times before. Not the 1st time McClown has been targeted for obesity and child health risks.
Yeah, he's a regular Joe Camel.
Lets just go ahead and rename this country China.2
If they ban Ronald, then who would stop the Hamburglar?
If their kids are already controlling them it is going to take a lot more then the retirement of a fictitious clown to solve that problem.
Like people here are saying, it comes down to parenting... Okay, so the commercials are designed in order to bring about the notorious "nag factor", but bottom line is that it is the parents who cave into it.
This kind of stuff is absolutely ridiculous! The idea that we can't think for ourselves and need someone else to tell us what is good for us is one of the reasons this country is falling apart.
Its not McDonald's fault or any of the food they sell. Its the parents fault for not instructing their children properly & also the fact that kids today spend a lot time on the couch watching tv, videogames, internet, etc. when they should be outside having fun.
All right, how about we let the parents have the freedom to choose if they will allow their kids to eat fast food. If parents limit the amount of fast food their kids eat, it wouldn't be all that bad so long as they eat healthy the majority of the time and McDonalds is only had every once in a while.

I'm getting sick of people wanting to ban everything they think is unhealthy or in their opinion, bad.
Simple: eat the balanced diet. Many people dont even know how do that.

UNLESS people who have really high metabolism- JUST eat anything you want. I have that, so I dont care. :D
lol that was such a stupid, yet entertaining movie... Well, back when I originally saw it anyways.
I like McDonald's fries. (only when they're freshly made)

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