The red and yellow-clad clown is in the crosshairs of health advocates again. As you may recall, concerned citizens have called for McDonald’s and other fast foods to stop including toys with their child menu items. Many critics would like to see all marketing of fast food items to kids be done with for good. That includes one Ronald McDonald.
I’m certainly an advocate for reasonable legislation in the fight against obesity. However, this is where parents need to step up to the plate and be parents. I’m a parent of two young children myself, and while we will occasionally partake in drive-through meals, I’ve never felt that Happy Meals or any other kids-based food marketing ploy rendered me helpless in making the right decision.
Leading the push to put Ronald six feet under is a group called Corporate Accountability International.
“Through this initiative, the public health community is rallying behind a simple message to McDonald’s: stop making the next generation sick – retire Ronald and the rest of your junk food marketing to kids,” said Steven Rothschild, a professor at Rush Medical College and a backer of the resolution.
This begs an obvious question: are children making the decision to buy Happy Meals? This is a parenting failure, plain and simple. As I said previously, my family will do fast food… in moderation. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s when parents use it as a constant crutch in our modern hectic age that things go awry.
McDonald’s is also being hit with a class-action lawsuit over claims that a fast food restaurant is violating California state consumer protection laws.
“We are committed to responsible advertising and take our communications to children very seriously,” McDonald’s said in a statement.
You can’t say they are lying – they certainly take their marketing efforts “seriously.”
“Ronald is an ambassador for good and delivers important messages to kids on safety, literacy and balanced, active lifestyles,” the statement went on to say.
That part is a bit hard to stomach.
Ronald McDonald first hit the scene in 1971. So I, and a lot of other people, spent our entire childhood being exposed to this clown. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 1980 the rate of childhood obesity has just about tripled. Thirty years ago kids were much healthier, and yes, Ronald McDonald was around back then. Therefore, there must be something else that changed in the equation.