Unhappy Meals? Should McDonald’s be Regulated?

I received the following email yesterday. (I’m going to print it here verbatim, exclamation points and all … ) This is a controversial issue.  Should the government regulate what we eat? Draw your own conclusions and then please comment. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

“McDonald’s is under attack again today!  A group called Corporate Accountability International is proposing a resolution to ban Ronald McDonald and other popular kid’s toys from the fast food giant, because they say this type of marketing is what’s making kids obese.

The introduction of the resolution is scheduled for today [yesterday, May 19, ed. note].

Weight loss expert Steve Siebold, author of the book Die Fat or Get Tough; 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People (, strongly disagrees!  Siebold says McDonald’s isn’t to blame, but rather parents of obese children are.

Here are a few of his thoughts:

·         It’s not the restaurants, food manufacturers, portion sizes or anything else that is making Americans and children fat.  If you’re fat it’s your own fault.  If your kids are fat it’s the parents fault.

·         Take away Happy Meal toys and Ronald McDonald and obese kids are still going to talk their parents into giving them something else unhealthy.  Are we going to ban Halloween next?

·         Ronald McDonald and Happy Meal toys are an American institution and the accusations being brought on by this organization are preposterous and a waste of time.

·         American’s are free to make their own choices when it comes to what they eat.  If they want to eat Happy Meals, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or whatever, the fundamental rights of living in this country allow people to make their own choices.

If you don’t know that fast food is bad for you by now than you must be from another planet.  What it comes down to is mental toughness and choices.  America needs to grow up and make a commitment to lose weight and get healthy once and for all.  Targeting McDonald’s is not the answer to the obesity epidemic.”


While Siebold makes some valid points, there are other sides to the issue.

Here, some other food for thought from the Centers for Disease Control:

• Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 34% (2007-2008)

• Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight (and not obese): 34% (2007-2008)

Source: Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Extreme Obesity Among Adults: United States, Trends 1976–1980 Through 2007–2008

• Percent of adolescents age 12-19 years who are obese: 18% (2007-2008)

• Percent of children age 6-11 years who are obese: 20% (2007-2008)

• Percent of children age 2-5 years who are obese: 10% (2007-2008)

Source: Prevalence of Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, Trends 1963-1965 Through 2007-2008

And, Chew on This:

San Francisco Passed a Ban on Restaurant Toy Giveaways.

Source: CalorieLab/LabNotes –

Half of Americans will have Diabetes by 2020



Fast Food Facts and America’s Kids:

One in every four American kids aged 4 to 8 eats at least one fast food meal in an average day, which makes the findings of a recent Michigan State University study unsettling, notably the researchers’ discovery that a minuscule 3 percent of designated “children’s meals” offered by fast food restaurants meets federal recommendations for nutritional content.

For example, 75 percent of the kids’ meals provided insufficient calcium and 85 percent came up short in vitamin A, and perhaps most significant, given the national wave of childhood obesity, 65 percent contained excessive amounts of fat.

Source: CalorieLab.com


There are endless studies, statistics, facts and fiction about food and nutrition on the web.  Above are only a few salient points.

Weigh in, please.  Should the way McDonald’s markets and sells Happy Meals to the nation’s children and parents be regulated? Are fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s, at least partly responsible for the rise in childhood obesity? (And adult obesity, for that matter?) What do you think?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts …