McDonald's reacts to protests and calls to fire Ronald

McDonald's Corp has refused to pay heed to the protesters who ask it to assess the impact of its food on childhood obesity, and said its trademark clown Ronald McDonald would be hawking Happy Meals to kids for years to come.

Chief Executive Jim Skinner told a packed room at its shareholders' meeting, to an enthusiastic wave of applause, “This is about choice and we believe in the democratic process… This is about the personal and individual right to choose.” Shareholders of the world's largest fast-food chain resoundingly rejected a proposal that would have required it to issue a report outlining its role in the childhood obesity epidemic, saying customers were free to make their own dietary choices. Skinner said, “Ronald McDonald is an ambassador to McDonald's and he is an ambassador for good. Ronald McDonald is going nowhere,” to calls for the retirement of Roland.

There's no doubt that Ronald McDonald is well known. He ranks fourth in consumer awareness out of 2,800 celebrities in an index created by The Marketing Arm, an Omnicom agency. “Ronald is recognized by more than 99% of U.S. consumers. Clearly, that's his strength,” says Chris Anderson, communications director for The Marketing Arm. “Of course, just because consumers know someone doesn't mean they like them or trust them.”

Dr. Donald Zeigler, director of Prevention and Health Lifestyles at the American Medical Association was one of the protesters who asked when the burger chain will stop marketing to children using Ronald McDonald. Zeigler, who is also visiting assistant professor at Rush University Medical Center, was one of 550 healthcare professionals who had signed an open letter to McDonald's pleading that it “stops making the next generation sick.” In fact this Tuesday this watchdog group placed ads in newspapers across the country calling for McDonald's to stop marketing to children through the clown, toy giveaways and other tactics.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention some 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Being overweight during childhood raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and a host of other diseases.

The restaurant chain has added healthier options to its menu, including salads and oatmeal, but critics argue there is still too much fat, salt and sugar in its meals. Even the oatmeal, one critic noted, contains about as much sugar as a Snickers candy bar. Skinner defended McDonald's strategy, which has resulted in hefty sales and earnings for shareholders. McDonald's shares have gained nearly 12 percent in the last four months.

Experts point out obese children often grow into obese adults, overburdening the entire healthcare system. Miles White, chairman and chief executive of diversified healthcare company Abbott Laboratories, has been a director of the McDonald's board since 2009. The irony is that Abbott makes a broad range of drugs, including cholesterol-lowering statins, and medical devices, such as heart stents used on patients with clogged arteries.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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    I could never understand why some people think they know what's best for others... Or even have the nerve to suggest it!!! When it pertains to what they eat or like to consume... Their menu is their business. If you do not care to eat there.... The people who sell vegy burgers are down the road!!! Look at the Ronald McDonald homes that there are to help people in need. Should we change the name of these houses??? Of course not... Why people cannot mind their own business is beyond me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. gitmo-slave gitmo-slave United States says:

    So the clown is the reason for the childhood obesity?
    The parents buying the food has nothing to do with it?
    ITS ALL THE PARENT'S FAULT!!!  Little children who are targeted by the 'big bad clown' don't have the funds or means to go get it.

    Typical US views:  Its ALWAYS someone else's fault.  Its never *my* bad judgement. (and looking to sue for crap)

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