McDonald’s Shareholders Reject Health Proposal


For the second year in a row, McDonald’s shareholders voted down a resolution asking the company to assess its impact on public health. With fast food increasingly linked to diet-related diseases and childhood obesity, Corporate Accountability International partnered with more than 2,500 health professionals and institutions who are urging McDonald’s to stop marketing junk food to children.

The resolution supported by 6.4 percent of shareholders (up from 5.9 percent last year) requested:

…that the Board of Directors issue a report, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, within six months of the 2012 annual meeting, assessing the company’s policy responses to growing evidence of linkages between fast food and childhood obesity, diet-related diseases and other impacts on children’s health. Such report should include an assessment of the potential impacts of public concerns and evolving public policy on the company’s finances and operations.

Dr. Andrew Bremer, a pediatric endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, had this to say at the shareholder meeting:

McDonald’s can no longer ignore the spiraling costs of its business practices on our children’s health and on our healthcare system. This issue is not only critical to the health and well-being of generations to come, but also to shareholders who should be better informed about the liabilities associated with the businesses they’re investing in.

Maureen Morrison in Advertising Age quoted the company’s response:

We offer a variety of food choices to our customers; provide nutrition information about our menu items in a variety of accessible ways so that families can make informed decisions; communicate with children in a responsible manner through age appropriate marketing and promotional activities; and encourage children and families to live balanced, active lifestyles.

The new CEO, Don Thompson, who takes over the helm in July, is already chafing under accusations about the company’s contribution to diet-linked diseases and increasing obesity in children. According to Tiffany Hsu of the Los Angeles Times, he told the meeting,

I love my children dearly. I would never do anything to hurt them or any other children, nor would we as a corporation. Please do me the honor of not associating us with doing something that is damaging to children. We have been very responsible…. Please understand the good that we’ve done.

That is a noble sentiment, but the Full Menu Explorer on the McDonald’s Web site is a graphic indication of the company’s dietary priorities. Healthy choices are a minority add-on, not the focus. McDonald’s has made improvements in nutrition, sustainability and animal welfare, but has a long way to go on all three counts.

McDonald’s is an industry leader, but this leopard would have to change more than a few spots to become a true model of corporate commitment to healthy people on a healthy planet. Sara Deon, campaign director for Corporate Accountability International, put it bluntly in her submission. Addressing Jim Skinner, McDonald’s outgoing CEO, she said:

Mr. Skinner, your tenure may have been good for McDonald’s profits, but this has come at the expense of our kids’ health. Parents and health professionals globally urge you to take Ronald McDonald, and the suite of McDonald’s predatory marketing practices, into retirement with you. As a going away gift to the public, will you and McDonald’s finally stop interfering in public health policy and stop marketing to kids a brand that is burdening a generation with chronic, diet-related disease?

The answer, we know now, was a resounding NO.


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Photo credits: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Brian C.
Brian C.5 years ago

just show them by not going there.
is that too hard?
how hard is it to cook at home?
or try some restaurant more healthy,
if you have to eat out.
sure the stockholders would change after
the sheep quit flocking to the Golden Arches
for six meals a day ...

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago

profits over people

Dale Overall

Lisa H. is correct when stating that the food industry is putting all sorts of crud into the foods that we are eating. Proper labelling of every ingredient would help and letting us know if the food is GMO also helps.

There are so many toxins in foods these days compared to even thirty years ago it is little wonder children have peanut allergies and what not. No one had even heard of peanut allergies when I was in school in the early sixties! Children ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we did not drop like flies! These days there are so many more additives and things in highly refined/processed foods little wonder there are so many health problems.

McDonald's thinking of health is going against their bottom line. Not likely!

Amy S.
Amy Salawu5 years ago

The ShareHolders are not supporting unhealthy lifestyles or animal abuse. They are simply not willing to be subjected to what is already a biased attack. McDonald's is a choice not an obligation. There are plenty of obese kids out there who cannot blame it on McDonald's. Health is personal and it is up to us to take care of ourselves. When did McD's become my nutritionist? If I walk up to the counter and order 40 cheeseburgers are they suppossed to question me? Really? Be responsible, get off your ass and walk to McD's instead of driving thru and don't make it a habit. They have nutritional guidelines in the restaurant and online - if you read it and still want to eat it don't bitch that it made you fat. YOU are the problem, not the fast food chains. The government needs to spend more time telling people to get up and move and less time trying to make McD's pay for obesity.

Christine Stewart

Of course the shareholders reject anything bordering on improved health or less cruelty to animals because it would reduce their profits...

Laurie A.
Laurie T5 years ago

I had my first taste of McD's in the early 70's..when the company slathered out cute "sing along" jingles as a means of pulling in a population of babysitting/newspaper route working teens, tempting them to spend their dollars on quarter pounders and fries. Parents looked at McD's as a place to eat, as a treat. We went there once a month and to A&W once a month. Two generations later, I watch my obese neighbors and their obese children climbing out of their cars, with their take out McD's bags, in hand 3-4 times a week.... A WEEK!!! Four of those children on my street are diabetic. "I just don't have enough time to cook." "I take good care of my children." ~~ some of the words I hear from the very parents of those diabetic, obese children. How does one ignore simple little realities like that..without wondering whether or not McD's has any responsibility for meal habits in this modern culture? Subliminal seduction in advertising is still alive and well and living on billboards, in ads, and on tv..."feeding" today's children more incentives to sway mom/dad towards McD's fast food convenience. If kids were out playing and exercising, I wonder how many McD's ads they'd miss on tv, while they work up a healthy appetite, that includes acquiring a taste for healthier foods?

Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay K5 years ago

Yes, of course we can all make our own choices. But this decision sounds like greed, pure and simple, to me.

ed Willis
Edward Willis5 years ago

Good for them .As a person I can make a choice to eat fast food or not.I myself choose not.

Kelly R5 years ago

OF course they would. If they would stop selling fat, grease, and pink slime how would they be able to buy a villa in France, vacation home in The Hamptons????