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Is Ronald McDonald Responsible for Childhood Obesity?

by Elaine Fogel  |  
June 13, 2011

Is junk-food marketing to kids fair? Should it be allowed? Is Ronald McDonald responsible for childhood obesity and its associated diseases?

Recently, more than 550 very credible health institutions and professionals challenged McDonald's to stop marketing junk food to kids. Initiated by Corporate Accountability International, full-page ads appeared in several dailies across the country urging people and professionals to sign the open letter and share it with peers.

An American interagency government group has developed standards for marketing food to children to help food companies determine which foods should be marketed as a way to encourage a healthful diet and which foods shouldn't be marketed to children.

Studies do demonstrate that reducing junk-food marketing to kids could help improve millions of children's health. But, let's be honest. Who is responsible here? Ronald, parents, educators, or all of the above?

Personally, I'd like nothing better than to see healthier kids in North America. As a former educator, I've seen how vulnerable many kids are to marketing in general. But, why are we penalizing one company? Sure, McDonald's is the largest in its category, and Ronald McDonald is a widely-recognized figure, but if we target one, we must target all marketers of high-sugar cereals with premiums in the boxes, chocolate syrup that contains high fructose corn syrup, candy bars, sugary drinks, etc.

Nutrition and health education programs are direly needed in public schools. Projects and homework assignments can then engage parents, to enlist their support, and help enlighten them as well. After all, eating habits are modeled by parents.

My kids weren't allowed to eat junk food during their formative years. That included McDonald's, other fast-food restaurants, and most highly-processed grocery products. They complained, and I held my ground. Parents have huge influence on their children's eating habits, especially during the first 8 to 10 years.

As a society, it's very challenging to balance business success with the best interests of our people. When business thrives, people are employed and can support their families. On the other hand, when our families are in ill health, we all pay the price eventually---in the United States with higher health insurance premiums, and in Canada, with higher taxes to cover universal healthcare.

So, what do YOU think? Should Ronald McDonald retire? Should all food marketers be held accountable for the products that contribute to ill health?

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel

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  • by Gina Schnathorst Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    I agree that we cannot single out McDonalds and what's good for one has to be good for all. Ultimately it is the parents and/or guardians that need to stop enabling their children. Most kids do not have a means to even get to a McDonalds to purchase a Happy Meal or to the grocery store to buy a candy bar or box of surgary cereal. It has to start at home. Let's get back to the "good 'ol days" when sugar was a treat, not the norm!

  • by Jessica Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    I strongly feel that parents are 100% responsible for what their children eat regardless of how much advertising their children see. They are also 100% responsible for what their children watch and how much they watch on TV.

    I strongly oppose governmental agencies spending tax dollars to regulate where parents should be guiding their children. In the formative years (up until teenage years) your child cannot drive to or pay for their own food therefore they rely upon parental guidance to make proper decisions for them.

    My two cents - Jessica

  • by Michael Seringer Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Yes, highly processed food companies and fast-food restaurants in particular are contributing greatly to a growing childhood obesity and diabetes epidemic. These large corporations benefit from subsidized corn and contribute to growing healthcare costs that potentially can bankrupt the entire system. More than 60% of a McDonald's chicken nugget is corn starch, the majority of their menu packed with dense, empty calories, yet they are allowed to market directly to children. Like the cigarette industry before them, McDonald’s understands that marketing to kids now creates fast-food addicts and increased future profits. We should adopt a serious tax on the food that is killing us. I have seen 8 year old diabetics while working on a diabetes documentary film and they all love McDonalds.

  • by brian Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Absolutely not.

    First of all, not all of what McDonald's sells -- even to kids -- is 'junk food.'

    It's no more unhealthy, in many cases, than what kids are fed at home anyway, or than what can be purchased at other restaurants.

    And more importantly, blaming the marketer for obesity is like blaming a gas station for traffic accidents. It's up to parents to educate their kids about good eating habits and (especially) model them. Just this weekend my 11 yr-old daughter, who was eating leftover green beans with walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes for breakfast, said "It's kinda weird how we all (her and her two brothers) all like vegetables. Kids aren't supposed to like vegetables." My response was, "well, you've been exposed to good food your whole life and you are used to it now and you like it...a lot of kids don't get that opportunity."

    Now, later in the day did she eat chicken nuggets and hush puppies? Yes, yes she did. And I bought them for her. But she understands that food like that is fine in moderation.

    Dismounting soap box now....

  • by Julie O'Malley Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    How about this... let's stop marketing to children altogether. Not just the junk food, but the highly-sexualized and violent toys, the overpriced brand name shoes and clothing, the Disney vacations few parents can afford, and so on.

    Targeting McDonalds is pointless. Every chain restaurant in North America, be it fast-food or sit-down, serves overly large, overly sodium-, sugar-, and fat-laden foods.

    Food packaging has become ridiculously oversized, too. Individual sodas are 20 oz. Individual bags of chip-type snacks are 3 times the size they used to be. (But the manufacturers' butts are covered because the fine print on the nutrition labels say it's 2.5 or 3 servings.)

    Even fruits have become gigantic. Apples, oranges, peaches, bananas ... all much bigger as a rule than 25 years ago. Our collective sense of appropriate portion sizes has been expanding along with the amount of food we're served.

    The reality is that the huge, salty, sugary, greasy junk food is cheap, and "healthy" food is comparatively expensive, and millions of people don't have the luxury of choosing the healthier alternatives for themselves or their children.

    I think the "550 very credible health institutions and professionals" are pandering to the media with headline grabbing "McDonalds is public enemy #1" campaign, when they know damn well it's far, far more complex than that. And it would be interesting to know who funded that study... just guessing there might be a vested interest in there somewhere.

  • by Susan Low Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    I think that ALL food marketers should be held accountable for their products, in the same way that all car marketers/manufacturers are held accountable for the safety of their vehicles and cigarette manufacturers should be responsible for the impacts of their products. What it comes down to is this: when the product is used as the manufacturer intends, given known and anticipated environmental/contextual factors, does the product harm or help the consumer? Marketers should be held accountable for producing goods that do not harm their consumers.

    Parenting decisions don't really enter into it. It's about whether the product itself is ethical.

    The reason why going after McDonald's is a good idea is because they are the leader in food marketing to children. When McDonald's made changes in their food safety standards for meat purchases, the meatpacking industry sat up and took notice, and began to change (long, long overdue and still not enough, but at least the deadlock was broken). If McDonald's leads a change, the other industry players will be forced to follow.

  • by michael Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    At the very least junk food makers should be required to do what pharmacutical makers have to do which is to publish a warning everytime they advertise.
    Warning this Big Mac may cause obesity, heart attacks, strokes and other serious health issues. Side effects include being fat and unhealthy, being teased, acne and having trouble with relationships.
    Consult with your brain before consuming our foods. If you are feeding this stuff to your kids, what in the world is wrong with you?

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Thanks, Gina. I totally agree. The challenge is that many parents are addicted to these fast foods, especially in low-income families. How do we enlighten parents?

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Thanks, Jessica. I understand your opposition to government intervention using tax dollars on this issue. Again, the ill health of the nation IS the government's concern if Medicare and other healthcare benefit costs rise because of obesity and disease rates. These programs cost all of us - whether it is proactive or reactive, we all eventually pay the price.

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Michael, the situation is indeed dire and sad. However, if we target McDonald's, which other companies should be on the list? Kellogg's and Post for marketing high-sugar, empty-calorie cereal to kids? Mars and Hershey? I agree with you that something must be done, but how fair is it to choose one scapegoat for a massive problem? I believe we need to educate kids AND their parents. That's the starting point.

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Brian, I appreciated your "soapbox" comment! I agree that moderation is key and we can't blame the marketers. Gosh, how many marketers are there in this world who are pushing things that aren't good for humans? Shall we disallow everything?

    The "fight" belongs in education and information. How great would it be for every elementary school district in the continent to add a nutrition unit to the health curriculum, if they haven't already? And, what if the sponsors of these nutrition units are the fast-food companies? The message would be to eat nutritionally and save fast food for an occasional treat.

  • by Audrey Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    McDonalds and other fast food places should be treated as a treat. The food isn’t the problem to focus on, 5 year-olds are not waltzing into a McDonalds on their own, their parents are bringing them there, whenever the child stomps his food for a happy meal. It’s the parents spoiling kids constantly and refusing to say no, to fast food, to toys, to electronics, to everything. Give McDonalds a break and focus on how you feed your children. After all, the should do what you tell them otherwise, good luck when they turn 14

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Julie, I have a mixed reaction to your response. I agree that food packaging and servings have gotten out of hand in the past several years. And yes, healthier choices do cost more, hence the fact that lower-income families buy less nutritional foods for their families.

    Where I disagree is when you suggest, "let’s stop marketing to children altogether." I'm not sure that this will solve the problems you state. Kids can still watch the TV spots targeted to adults that promote brand-name clothing, family vacations, etc. Then, there are the billboards, banner ads, ....

    Thanks for adding your two cents. You're right. This issue is far more complex than just demonizing McDonald's.

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Susan, I agree that industry food leaders yield a lot of power amongst their peers. When McDonald's added fruit and healthier choices to their menus, their competition followed suit. But, let's be realistic. The McDonald's brand is all about hamburgers, French fries, and chicken McNuggets. That's what the company was founded on, and for decades, America accepted it, patronized the place, and enabled it to grow and expand across the globe. Now, that we are in a more sustainable and healthy mode as a society, we're re-examining everything and the results are alarming.

    Is it ethical to eat hamburgers? I can't answer that question. If we analyze every consumer product for its harm to the user, how many products would be banned? Can you imagine the list? Cell phones; food and beverage products with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, high fat, chemicals; paint (fumes); cleaning products; etc.

    Marketers are doing their jobs for their employers. If their products are questionable, they have to decide if they can live with it. As consumers, we have the power to buy or not. The government's responsibility is to ban proven harmful products, e.g. lead-based. And even then, their hands are tied in this capitalistic system. The balancing act includes jobs, economy, special interest lobbying, corporate lobbying, food boards, product associations, ... So complicated. :(

    Thanks for your viewpoint.

  • by Elaine Fogel Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    Love it, Michael!

  • by Tom McClure Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    It's all a matter of personal responsibility and accountability. Parents should be responsible for what their kids consume. Period! The notion that food products should be "accountable" is nonsense. They ARE accountable - to the free marketplace. If the products they produce are not in demand in the marketplace, they'll either change them or go out of business. We don't need yet another layer of government police to punish a corporation.

    Recently, McDonalds has been forbidden to offer toys with meals in San Francisco. It they're clever, they'll offer two versions of the Happy Meal: one without a toy, and another version with a toy priced 10 cents higher. Let the free market decide the fate of the toys. (I bet the toys would win!).

  • by Faith Wheeler Mon Jun 13, 2011 via blog

    What we need is education to the children that McDonald's fast food isn't food.
    It's fast, but its not food.

    Morgan Spurlock did a super job of this in Supersize Me and albeit a little tough to watch, I would highly recommend children watch it. Mine did. And had no interest in touching fast food ever since.

    Perhaps we could impress on other independent filmmakers to educate kids on the negatives of "fast non-food."
    Kids these days, are a very interesting bunch of do-it-yourselfers: sponges for knowledge and willing to go against the grain of adult mores.

    It would be great to champion the kids into action.

  • by Cindy Watts Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    Living in the USA we should be able to make the choice to which foods we want to eat. I eat a well balanced diet which includes junk food 3-5 times a week and exercise regularly. Again, my choice.
    As a mother of 2, 16yr & 11yr, I have always given my kids the proper balance of healthy foods, junk food options, and daily exercise. Again, my choice.
    We are all a very slim family & do not have health issues. Keeping a well balanced life style with exercise & eating options.
    Do we blame McDonalds or any other company preparing foods for our country?
    Should we blame Apple, Dell, Microsoft, or the gaming companies for technology & keeping kids inside and not exercising?
    Should we blame Verizon, AT&T, TMobile, & Sprint for cell phones and keeping kids in their homes instead of communicating outside together while playing?
    Trying to find someone to blame is just crazy when you need to remember this is the USA & we do still have FREE CHOICES. Your health and your family's health is your choice.
    Get off the couch, get off the cell phone, get off the computer, get off the gaming machine, and eat well balanced meals with a little splurge once in a while. Again, Your Choice!

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    You make a good point, Audrey. The parents bear most of the responsibility. However, we must also acknowledge that lower-income working parents may have been raised with fast food and will continue the 'tradition' unless educated about nutrition. Only through education and information can they break the cycle. It would also help if healthier foods weren't as costly as nutritional food. Social marketing, in these cases, would be a viable option. Thanks!

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    Tom, I suspect that your perspective is shared with many business-minded individuals. I agree with you on the point that we can't hold one corporation responsible when there are so many other factors to consider. On the other hand, I do believe there's a place for government in specific situations where corporations' behaviors are harming people. Thanks for weighing in!

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    Faith, I totally agree. I saw "Supersize Me," too, and it made a profound case study for 'fast food = unhealthy body.' Spurlock's vitals grew worse and worse throughout the month on a fast-food diet. Education is the key, whether via filmmakers, TV documentaries, social marketing campaigns, or school curricula.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    Cindy, it's hard to argue with your comment! :) Well said. Just one thing to consider in this equation. You are likely an educated, resourceful individual. Many in this country are not. They perpetuate the behaviors and patterns they grew up with and so, pass them onto their children. They may have choices, but because of upbringing, they make the wrong ones. Education and social marketing messaging must engage both the parents and the children if we are to see any change. Thanks!

  • by Gina Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    It's hard to know where to begin on this topic. Perhaps a little disclosure first: I'm a mom of two young children, have a blog to help parents make healthy choices for their families, and was in a lead role for one of McDonald's ad agencies for over five years.

    I mentioned that I'm a mom, and that makes me - no one else- responsible for the health of my children. If they asked for ice cream for breakfast, or donuts for dinner, I'd say no and talk to them about treats, sometimes foods and growing foods. Ronald McDonald does not feed my children, nor have I ever witnessed him trying to convince my child to eat food at McDonald's. This is the parent's responsibility.

    Ronald McDonald and McDonald's have been around a lot longer than our current childhood disease epidemic. A lot longer! What's new is the technological advances in our society that make it easier for us to move less. We don't take the stairs, bike to school, or run around the neighborhood. We don't have to walk to our co-workers desk to ask a question, or even walk to an office when we can work from the comforts of our couch. The overly-processed foods that fill the aisles of grocery stores do nothing to help raise healthy children either.

    It's really hard for some families to eat healthy, homemade food. Sure, that's the ideal, but let's be realistic. In today's economy you have two working parents who don't have the time, money and skills to cook something healthy. What's the alternative? Is going through the drive-thru really much worse than neon-colored macaroni and cheese "dinner"? Have you looked at the ingredients?

    McDonald's is an easy target due to their size - I know, I've dealt with protesters and haters of the brand for years. Their goal is to convince the big guy to change so that the industry will follow. It's more efficient to make the big guy fall than to take on Ronald plus Tony the Tiger, Aunt Jemimah, Dora and Spongebob - all who directly market overly-processed food. Here's the thing: you won't find an instance of Ronald peddling food. As Chief Happiness Officer, he does not promote the food.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not a brand advocate and I can count on one hand how many times my children eat there in a year. But attacking Ronald is not going to solve our health crisis. We need programs that educate parents, care givers and children about the benefits of healthy eating, and how to make it affordable. It's simple, and yet so complicated. We need to stop funding commodity crops and invest in our children's future. Support healthy foods, not the ingredients that food manufacturers use to cheapen their food. The government has more control and influence over what's served our in our schools and look at the quality of that program? Based on what I've seen in some schools, I'd rather my child eat at McDonald's.

    We need to empower parents to make the difficult decisions for their children. Trust me, it's a heck of a lot easier to give in to a tantrum-throwing child who wants a Happy Meal than to say no, and explain why - 25 times a day!

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    Hear, hear, Gina! Education, education. The health crisis solution, as you mention, is "simple, and yet so complicated."

    There are so many layers to this problem, it's ludicrous to select one culprit. Frankly, I believe that McDonald's response to the current situation demonstrates leadership. We can't expect a company to put itself out of business, but it has adapted well by offering healthier menu choices and showing corporate leadership. I also happen to admire what they do with Ronald McDonald Charities.

    Is it perfect? No. But, we can't blame one company for the ills of our children. There are many other parties that share the responsibility, including parents. The solution lies in a collaborative effort by government, school districts, corporations, nonprofits, and school parent associations. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • by Elena Tue Jun 14, 2011 via blog

    I agree with most of what is being said, however, the 8 yo diabetics Michael has seen are most likely Type 1. Eight years is not long enough to develop diabetes, especially when part of those are breast and/or bottle fed years.

  • by Susan Low Wed Jun 15, 2011 via blog

    So let's re-examine everything, and if we find the results alarming, let's use our power as consumers and voters to bring down the companies that design, manufacture and market the products we find unappealing. If McDonald's does not do good things for society, why should society let them exist? A company has no RIGHT to exist in the same way as an individual has a right to live. Corporations are legal constructs and we seem to have fallen under the illusion that there is nothing we can do to stop them. If we stop buying the unhealthy products and ask our governments to regulate and stop the sale of those unhealthy products, the corporations will be forced to provide what the market DOES want.

    Yes, it's certainly complicated, but we can't walk away from every challenge.

    For what it's worth, I decided three years ago that my son (who is nearly 4) will not know what McDonald's serves. I do not take him there, and I have instructed all grandparents/aunts/uncles/caregivers not to take him there. We don't have cable TV so he doesn't get the advertisements. Soon enough he'll be in school and his friends will fill him in on what he's been missing, but I can use whatever influence I have now to raise a healthy child who will one day make good food choices of his own, and perhaps become a lawyer to bring down the behemoth. :D

  • by Afreen Ahmed Wed Jun 15, 2011 via blog

    Only McDonald is not responsible for obesity in childhood, there are many other food outlets which has high levels of sucrose and sugar which could cause health problems at early age. Parents play very important role while nurturing their children. Parents should control on eating habits of kids, junk is also good when it is not over eaten, it changes the taste for some while. Children always should be under their parents guidance at least till children are age of teen. :)

  • by Tracey Jackson Wed Jun 15, 2011 via blog

    I can't help but wonder if the problem doesn't go even deeper than education, especially with regards to low income families. There just are not many options, at least in the poorer areas of my home town. It takes two hands to count the number of fried chicken restaurants in a one mile radius of some of our poorer areas, while there may be only one "grocery" store that offers limited, overpriced fresh fruits and veggies. Not to mention that fast food and processed food is significantly cheaper and lasts longer than fresh food...something that certainly impacts the decisions that a low-income person might make as they ride a bus across town to shop at a real grocery store and know they may not be able to make the trip again before the healthy stuff goes bad. They are more often making choices based on convenience and price, rather than any marketing gimmicks aimed at them or their family. How can we improve access to healthy foods for all?

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Jun 15, 2011 via blog

    Thanks for enlightening us, Elena.

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Jun 15, 2011 via blog

    Susan, as consumers, we have incredible power in the marketplace. We have the option NOT to purchase the products we find "unappealing." I agree. But, wouldn't you say there's a difference between unappealing and harmful? And then, how do we distinguish what is harmful? Imagine how many current products are NOT safe for long-term use, yet we are exposed to them each and every day.

    I am not a scientist, nor have I studied this subject extensively, but I will guess that pesticides on our produce can't be good for us. Cleaning solvents, certain beauty products with carcinogenic chemicals, the list can go on ad infinitum. Where do we start and where do we finish? For the really bad stuff on the market - products that are scientifically proven to be harmful - that's where government legislation comes in. But, the rest is about supply and demand.

    As consumers, we have options to buy organic produce, natural cleaning products and chemical-free makeup. We can't assume that everyone else will follow suit. Some people are unaware or just don't care. Price point often determines buyers' selections. If you are in a lower income bracket, can you afford to buy organic produce, even if you want to? The more consumers become educated and informed, the greater the demand for healthier choices, and then the prices may fall.

    As for McDonald's, I think they have responded to the new, healthier mindset as best they can, considering they are a hamburger and French fries company. I also admire what they do with Ronald McDonald Charities. They got into philanthropy long before it was popular in the corporate sector. Consumers will decide whether the company should exist or not.

    And, for what it's worth on my part, I raised my kids on homemade, whole foods. They never went to a McDonald's or other fast food joint until they were in elementary school, and then very infrequently. Heck, I didn't even let them eat chocolate for years - just carob. Sure, they rebelled at some point, but today my daughter is a vegan and my son, well, he's making an effort to eat healthier. My parental influence helped a great deal, but it's true that marketing influenced their desires to try the things they couldn't have at home.

    Thanks a mill, Susan, for your input here. I am loving the dialog and sharing of viewpoints. :)

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Jun 15, 2011 via blog

    Thanks, Afreen. Parents do play a huge role in this, unless, of course, they are uneducated or uninformed about the harm that sugar and other food products can do to their kids. Kids model their parents, so we can't expect the overweight, diabetic parent, who gorges on cookies and chips, to teach kids about better eating habits.

    Even if kids are under their parents' guidance until they are teenagers, which isn't quite realistic in North America, the parents are often the ones who need enlightening. And, that requires education at every level. Social marketing and educational family programs are the key to helping us reduce childhood obesity and other health problems. So, whose job is it to step up and do this? That's the question.

    Thanks for your comment, Afreen!

  • by Elaine Fogel Thu Jun 16, 2011 via blog

    Tracey, you are absolutely right! This is a critical part of the problem, too. All the marketing and education won't mean that fresh, nutritious foods are available in low-income neighborhoods. It's a real Catch-22. Even if families decided to reduce their intake of fried fast food, it may wean out the number of restaurants, but it wouldn't mean that larger grocery chains would open in these neighborhoods. These companies work on ROI, and if it isn't lucrative, it doesn't pay off.

    What a dilemma. This type of situation warrants a collaborative solution between nonprofits, grocery store chains, and the government. If there's a will, there is a way.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • by Debbie Ryan Fri Jun 17, 2011 via blog

    Fast food is also just that - "fast". Families at every level are busier than ever for a variety of reasons; kids extracurricular activies that have increased in intensity take up more and more time, lower income parents who work two jobs to make ends meet, dual income families where parents are working longer hours and still trying to wedge in the gym or professional activities... who has time to plan, shop for, and cook the nutritious meals that most parents know they should be serving?

  • by Elaine Fogel Fri Jun 17, 2011 via blog

    Strong point, Debbie. And most fast food outlets have unhealthy food with a few exceptions like Subway. Good case here for developing a cooking co-op with friends.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Just as an FYI, I emailed the media contact for McDonald's global and invited the company to post a comment.

  • by Mr Darius Fri Jun 22, 2012 via blog

    I couldn't agree more. Parents need to parent, and stop trying to blame everything and everyone under the sun for their own shortcomings. These same parents are in may cases overweight and obnese themselves, and want to look for external factors to blame thjeir obesity on. Its silly.

    The McDonald's scapegoating is another thing that peeves me. How can a restaurant make anyone fat? Obesity is caused by repetitive, continual and sustained behavior. Not by a particular type of food that a business decides to sell. You HAVE to get out of your house, go the the restaurant, order, pay for and consume mass quantities of their food, and do this for a prolonged enough period of time for obesity to take hold. There's just no way anyone can convince me that that is anyone else's fault but the purchasers and consumers of those foods.

    I've been eating McDonald's snce high school. I'm the same 5' 11", 176 lbs I was back then and I'm 49 years old. What's the difference between me and so many others? I don't consume the stuff every day, or in huge quantities. Its all about choice really.

  • by Elaine Fogel Fri Jun 22, 2012 via blog

    Thanks for weighing in, Mr. Darius. (No pun intended.) After reviewing the comments here - it's been a while - I have come to realize something. Parents are so overwhelmed. Fast food makes life easy for them and reduces their stress in coming home from work and feeding their families. It does take work to eat healthily. And not everyone is motivated to buy healthy food and cook healthy meals. That's where we have work to do. I also think there's a fallacy that permeates our society. Many believe that eating fast foods and inexpensive, processed foods are less expensive than buying fresh produce and unadulterated food. I became a dietary vegan in December of 2011 and discovered that eating a plant-based diet costs less than buying meat, dairy, fish, and convenience foods. It's a commitment to cook at home most of time, but the health benefits have been scientifically proven.

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