On the one hand, Ronald McDonald is being blamed pretty much single-handledly for the rise in children's obesity, and there are organizations calling for his resignation. On the other, Ronald McDonald is also the symbol of the good works of McDonald's like Ronald McDonald House.
Here's my two cents on the matter. No individual with a brain ever really thought McDonald's food overall was health food, although they certainly have made efforts to have some healthy choices--yogurt parfaits, fruit smoothies, oatmeal, grilled chicken, apple slices, side salads. So if a child wants McDonald's, it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be unhealthy food.
And who is supposed to be deciding for a child between the healthy food McDonald's offers on its menu and the less than stellar choices? YES! The parent or guardian.
I sympathize with parents overall. When I'm out and about, there's always some kid throwing a fit down a store aisle because they want some kiddie-oriented food that Mom or Dad doesn't want to buy. And how did the kid come to want that junk item? Was it the Saturday morning cartoon character, Disney character, or you name the kid's latest marketing character on the package?
Have you seen Dairy Queen's Deeq's online food game? It features characters that have heads shaped like swirled ice cream cones and they play a game with various mostly junky food items (two out of nine items featured are okay--a side salad and a grilled chicken wrap), while mini blizzards are prominently featured. So technically you could also make healthy choices there too, but the emphasis is on less than healthy food.
So let me see then, McDonald's is not the only one that has kids as a target market. Dairy Queen is just as obviously going after the kids market, so why is it that no one is complaining about the other kids food marketing like this, or the characters on the packaging of junky kid foods in the supermarket? Let's face it, those Keebler elves on cookies are not aimed at adults! I'm sure they've had absolutely nothing to do with kid obesity--yeah, right.
I'm sorry, but to me this comes down to parents needing to be parents, and it comes down to making choices. There are lots of unhealthy food offerings out there in the world, and you want to know why they exist? It's because we're voting for them with our wallets. They exist because we buy them. If we don't buy the junk, they'll sell us healthier stuff. Food companies and restaurants are there to make a profit, and if they'll make the same or greater profit with healthy food, they'll do it.
When you go into a supermarket, there is both healthy food and junk food. You can buy an apple or you can buy a fattening, chemical-filled apple pastry. It's up to every individual, and every parent or guardian for those who are too young to make their own choices, to decide what they buy. And it's no different at McDonald's.
You can let a child have their regular food once in awhile as a treat if you really want to, but you don't have to let them have it every day. You also can teach a child to buy the healthy food at McDonald's and with smart choices, the kid could have McDonald's more often. The healthy food is there, and Ronald McDonald is okay with you buying it too.
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