Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Hypocrisy of McDonald's

The other day my wife and I were watching television, and we saw a commercial - promoting health in children - only to find out that this commercial was for The Ronald McDonald House.

For those of you that do not know, in 1984, the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) was official established in the memory of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc - who is said to have been a strong advocate for children. And since 1984, McDonald's has continued to support the charity through donations (boxes at all McDonald's restaurants) and ads geared towards donations for the fund.

This is all fine and well. It's great that McDonald's is reaching out to children in need and children with health problems. In fact, the mission statement from the RMHC website states:

"The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children."

Excuse me? Improving the health and well being of children? I have thus, dug a bit deeper.

On the American Heart Association's website - this table shows daily averages of what children should consume - as far as their food intake. It shows that between the ages of 4 and 8 (the typical age where those children will consume a McDonald's Happy Meal) for females, the daily intake should be 1,200 calories, and for males - 1,400 calories. Also, the Baylor Medical Center estimates that total sodium intake for a child ages 4-8 as being 1,200-1,900 mg, 19 g of protein, and total fat of an equivalent of 39-62 g (which seems rather high to me, but who am I to argue with the Baylor Medical Center?).

So, how is McDonald's being a hypocrite? Well, it's simple, if the RMHC wants to promote healthy living in children, then how can the McDonald's restaurants continue to sell their Happy Meals? Allow me to elaborate:

On the nutrition center of the McDonald's website, they list the Cheeseburger Happy Meal with a Sprite (not "soda" but specified as Sprite) as having 640 calories, 940 mg of sodium, 35 g of protein, and 24 g of fat (of which, 7 g are saturated - i.e. "bad" fat).

Assuming this Happy Meal is the meal eaten for dinner, that leaves the child with only about 500-700 calories to fill the remainder of their day (both breakfast and lunch), with only 260-900 mg of sodium, protein enough to consume two days for children in only their dinner portion (and any excess protein, we all know, can turn to fat just as easily as excess calories), and 15-48 g of fat.

So, half of a child's caloric intake can be consumed EASILY in one sitting at a McDonald's restaurant (and the sodium, protein, and fat are off the chart), yet, they support the RMHC who seeks to "improve the health and well-being of children"? Which is it? Either you are trying to make a buck, or you truly wish to support the health and well-being of children.

I don't think it's any surprise to many Americans that our children are becoming obese and lethargic, and while McDonald's cannot be held fully responsible, it still raises the question, are they being hypocritical in their choice of charity versus their product sold to the children of America?

Which brings me back to the ad - not a single McDonald's product showed up in the ad for the RMHC, in fact, the children in the ad were eating salads and fruit - and I'm sure this was not done by accident, yet McDonald's continues to feed the children of America utter garbage, that can only help lead to obesity issues in the United States.

Sure, the parents may be more to blame than the restaurant, but if the restaurant truly wishes to promote the charity, which, in turn, promotes "health and well-being in children" then shouldn't the restaurant actually provide a product that does, in fact, promote that same desire for health and well-being?

I personally think so and I see the hypocrisy in their actions. I don't condemn the charity, but at the same time, I don't see how McDonald's can boast, "billions and billions of hamburgers served," and still latch onto a charity that seems to express the opposite of everything that is wrong with their restaurant. It just seems sad, almost like they feel as if they support the charity (and the fact it was established, in part, thanks to their founder), that they will get a reprieve in the eyes of the public.

I for one, am not blinded by their attempts to show support for health while over feeding everyone (not only the children) that enters into their establishment. The all-mighty dollar is a hard thing to forgo - especially when it's someone else's health at stake - keeping the health of the corporation running strong.

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