Organic Consumers Association

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Not Lovin' It: Moms and McDonalds Don't Mix

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Breaking The Chains page.

On February 10, 2012, Ronald McDonald held court in a packed elementary school auditorium. Ronald was visiting the Lexington, Kentucky elementary school as part of his sweep of that state. The visits are meant to teach "the value of leadership and community involvement," says Ronald, and kick off fundraising drives for Ronald McDonald Houses. According to, he's planning to visit at least 117 more schools there this year.

Could you imagine sending your kid off to school only to discover an all-school assembly has turned into an advertisement opportunity for a fast food chain? Today, junk food marketing happens in so many places, and in so many ways, that it's often behind parents' backs and beyond our control. This school assembly is just one way McDonald's does marketing.

This Mother's Day, moms are telling McDonald's, with the help of the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International, that they're not lovin' it.

Marketing junk food and drink to kids is big business. McDonald's alone spent close to $1 billion on advertising in the United States in 2011 with 40 percent of this on marketing directly to kids, according to researchers at Yale University's Rudd Center.

We know this food marketing works: it gets kids to prefer McDonalds and to just eat more -- period. With diet-related illnesses afflicting so many young people, marketing to kids and teens is downright dangerous.

I talked about all this at a TEDx event earlier this year. My point was simple: If we want to improve the health of children and teens and turn back the epidemic of preventable illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes, and more, we need to talk about marketing to kids.

Some people, when they learn about all the ways our kids are targeted, still insist it's up to parents to make the right choices. Just turn off the TV. Talk to your kids about ads. Wisen 'em up. Don't blame McDonalds if your kids don't eat right.   
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