McDonald’s Refuse Obesity Impact Assessment

June 2, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. obese (adj.) – having too much weight
Example: Obese people need to exercise to lose weight.
2. shareholder (n.) – a person who own a part of the shares of a company
Example: Shareholders have a right to decide for the company.

3. constant (adj.) – something that continues without pause or stop
Example: Constant exercise strengthens the body.

4. alternative (n.) – choices that can be used to replace something already present or existing
Example: Taking the stairs can be an alternative exercise rather than going to the gym.

5. hypertension (n.) – a medical condition in which the blood pressure is higher than normal
Example: Hypertension can be prevented by eating vegetables regularly.

Read the text below.
McDonald’s refused to have their food assessed in terms of its impact in the increasing number of obese children in the US. McDonald’s Chief Executive Jim Skinner says they cannot be responsible for this problem because people are free to choose what they eat. Skinner made this statement during the shareholder’s meeting of the multinational fast food company.

Critics of McDonald’s point out that the company’s marketing strategy aimed towards children is partly the reason why 17% of children in US are obese. Concerned groups placed ads in newspaper asking McDonald’s to stop using toys and clowns to trick children into eating unhealthy food.

As a response to constant criticism, McDonald’s now offers healthy choices in their menu. Customers can choose to replace French fries with chicken nuggets or apple slices with caramel sauce. Sodas can be replaced with milk or juice for children.

McDonald’s strategy seems to work because in four months their shares have increased by 12 % this year.

However, critics claim that these alternatives still have too much fat, salt and sugar which make children overweight. Obesity in children can lead to diabetes hypertension, and heart disease. Medical experts worry that when obese children grow up, health problems will likewise increase.

Ironically, Miles White, the chairperson of Abbott Laboratories that markets drugs and equipment for treating illnesses connected to obesity, is one of the board directors of McDonald’s.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think people can be controlled by advertising and other marketing strategies?
·         How can people overcome the influence of advertising?

Discussion B

·         Should parents control what their children eat? Why or why not?
·         How can parents encourage their children to eat healthier food?

June 2, 2011