Is Ronald McDonald really Public Enemy No. 1?

Related articles

The New York Times yesterday offered its readers an editorial composed of a remarkably non-nutritious meal of empty-headed platitudes about McDonald’s Happy Meals. The editorial expresses sympathy and support for wrong-headed litigation aimed at banning the practice of handing out children’s toys with Happy Meals.

The Times lambastes the fast-food giant, presenting it as an evil fat-cat raking in riches by encouraging childhood obesity. To support its case, the so-called Newspaper of Record quotes a former company executive, Roy Bergold, who has not been employed by McDonald’s in nearly a decade. Bergold’s supposedly damning remarks held that the company once targeted children as consumers, which is perhaps not surprising given that it sells fast-food. The Times also says that “37 percent of kids rank McDonald’s as the top fast-food restaurant.” It further observes that “A Happy Meal of cheeseburger with fries and soda packs 640 calories, more than half the U.S.D.A. daily allowance for a sedentary child aged 4 to 8...”

ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross asks if anyone “has ever seen a ‘sedentary’ four to eight year old?” He also wonders why figures showing 37 percent of tykes rank McDonald’s as the top fast-food restaurant should surprise anyone and asks whether there is any reason to believe that kids want to go to McDonald’s mostly for the toys offered rather than the food.

ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan says that the newspaper’s attacks on the company “are part of something we see very often: a desire for a simple solution to the obesity problem. And, of course, for The Times some big bad food company is always the villain.”

While The Times has nothing to say about the calorie-rich meals of, for instance, TV chef Paula Deen — or many of its own fatty recipes — it does blandly note that “Parents are responsible for their children’s diet.” Dr. Ross says that this news is as enlightening as word that the sky is blue.