Saturday, September 16, 2006

McDonald's Fighting Childhood Obesity And Diabetes? Ha! Now That's A Good One!

McDonald's President Alvarez says they are committed to making healthy kids

You'll know we are in the last days on Earth when:

- The Chicago Cubs win the World Series
- Rosie O'Donnell gets married to Tom Cruise
- Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United States
- McDonald's donates $2 million to obesity research

Oh, wait a minute, that last one is actually TRUE! REALLY!

This Reuters story provides all the details about how McDonald's Corp. has agreed to make the large donation to fund childhood obesity and diabetes research. I'm not kidding, they really are donating money to look into why kids are getting chubby.

Obviously feeling the public pressue regarding their high-carb, junk food offerings, McDonald's decided it was time to partner up with biomedical scientists at the California-based Scripps Institute for the first time in their company's history to look into ways to curb childhood obesity rates.

McDonald's President and Chief Operating Officer Ralph Alvarez said it is the goal of McDonald's to "make a difference in the lives of children."

"The collaboration with Scripps Research is an extension of McDonald's long-standing commitment to the well-being of children around the world," he said. "Everything that we keep on seeing is the whole issue of childhood obesity and the early onset of Type 2 diabetes has grown exponentially. We felt we needed to get greater education in this area."

Am I the only one who sees the incredible irony in this? Here we have the head of the #1 fast food company in the entire world talking about how much his company cares about the health of kids while at the same time they are marketing products directly to children that are arguably one of the root causes of childhood obesity. The fact that they threw a few pennies of their hundreds of billions of dollars in sales annually at obesity research does not get them off the hook from their culpability in the debate over rising childhood obesity. They hope it does, but it does not.

Fried junk food consumption has doubled among kids and a recent study showed that eating fast food makes you one-third fatter. Anyone who denies the contributing role of fast food in the current childhood obesity epidemic is either ignorant to the clear facts staring them in the face or they are simply protecting the financial interests of an industry that has a lot of explaining to do.

Meanwhile, McDonald's is working overtime trying to come across as a caring company when it comes to healthy living by doing such meaningless gestures as removing the "Super Size" from the menu and showing Ronald McDonald playing sports in television ad. Whoopdee freakin' doo! You're gonna have to do better than that if you're gonna convince people like me you are REALLY serious about improving the health and weight of the children you claim to care so much about.

Ever since Morgan Spurlock released his movie and book about McDonald's, the golden arches have been on a mission to convince the public that their food can be a part of a healthy diet. They even had people like this woman go on a McDiet to show you can lose weight eating at Mickey D's, too. While I don't think fast food is the only industry to blame for rising obesity, their unique part in this cannot be overlooked. If that's being too hard on McDonald's, then that's their problem. IT'S THE TRUTH!

So what does Alvarez think about the irony of McDonald's supporting scientific research into childhood obesity when most people universally agree that they are part of the problem?

"Ironic or not we're going to make a difference," he told Reuters. "You won't see those benefits short-term, in one to three years, because habits change over time. But as a major restaurant company, we need to be on the cutting edge of what's happening."

Okay, so you give a little money to this research--NOW WHAT?! What is going to change at the restaurant level, Mr. Alvarez? Anything? Sure, you come up with these high-sugar apple dippers that are about as unhealthy as everything else on your menu. But don't you market them as one of your healthy new products? Where's the integrity in that? Is that really all McDonald's can do is push some high-carb, low-fat products and think they're helping improve the health of children?

McDonald's certainly has the right to sell whatever they deem necessary to turn a profit, but what are the logical consequences of continually feeding that market with junk and more junk and more junk year after year? Obesity rates will just keep going through the roof with no end in sight. But McDonald's can proudly say they donated $2 million to childhood obesity and diabetes research, can't they? HA! Now that's a good one! What good does that do when people are still getting obese?

As I stated in a blog post earlier this week, childhood obesity doesn't need more money from companies like McDonald's to be solved. What we need is better education for children about what is causing them and their parents to get so fat. WAKE UP, AMERICA! We don't need to be eating fast food as part of our healthy lifestyle changes. We are partially to blame, too, because we keep subsidizing this garbage that companies like McDonald's is serving daily.

It's not the fat in the foods we are eating, but the excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates, starchy vegetables, white flour, and most of all SUGAR! Ironically, all of these things are VERY prevalent in the food at McDonald's. How does someone like Alvarez keep a clear conscious about what his company is doing to children and adults while spouting off the company line that McDonald's cares about the kids? That's the biggest load of corporate crap and he knows it, too!

The ultimate responsibility about what children are eating still falls on the parents and they need to practice restraint even when their children beg and plead to go to McDonald's. Trust me, when they get older and have a healthy body because of your wise decision to avoid McDonald's, they will thank you for it. Maybe if my mom had skipped taking us to McDonald's so much as a kid, we wouldn't have all ballooned into the morbidly obese adults that we all became.

Thankfully I was able to overcome my obesity problem, but it still haunts my brother Kevin and, to a lesser degree, my sister Beverly. These are the unintended consequences of the existence of companies like McDonald's. Whether they give $2 million, $20 million, or $200 million to childhood obesity research, nothing is going to change the fact that they are one of the primary reasons obesity is as bad as it is today. Call me whatever you want for saying that, but I challenge anyone to tell me it isn't true.

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

McDonalds is doing nothing new. In fact their strategy is as old as the road to Rome. It's called Divide et impera. The old Ceasars used it all the time with great success to fool the masses and their enemies.

The (root) causes of obesity are well known and have been well known and documented for many decades. The money McDonalds "donates" here is a mere publicity stunt: of course they are well aware of the (near zero) nutritional value of the high-carb junk they are pushing. It's a cheap yet effective diversion tactic - of course they are full aware that there's decades of conclusive scientific evidence already.

But, just like the ADA "scientists" that simply keep denying the role of sugar in obesity and diabetes, no matter what proof to the contrary is presented, McDonalds now has a cheap way to say that "more research is necessary" and that obesity merely is a function of "calories-in and calories-out".

Of course the real nutritional scientists will not buy into that, but the media (and hence the majority of the populace) will. And thus McDonalds simply maintains the old, tried-and-true Divide et impera — divide and conquer — strategy in a cheap way. Keep everybody confused and disorganized, and in the meantime keep cashing in. It's that simple.

9/17/2006 8:38 AM  

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