Ronald McDonald in the Hot Seat: Is he to blame for childhood obesity?

Is it time to kick Ronald McDonald to the curb?

Corporate Accountability International says it is. In a press release, Deborah Lapidus, senior organizer of the nonprofit group had this to say, “This clown is no friend to our children or their health. No icon has ever been more effective in hooking kids on a harmful product. Kids have become more obese and less healthy on his watch. He’s a deep-fried Joe Camel for the 21st Century. He deserves a break, and so do our kids.”

A national poll finds that close to half the public wants Ronald McDonald to retire. Close to 60 percent of Americans pin the blame for childhood obesity on the fast food industry.

Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes have risen dramatically over the past 30 years. While the popular clown can’t shoulder the blame alone, Corporate Accountability International says that McDonald’s spends more than a billion dollars each year on marketing in the U.S., much of it aimed directly at children.

It was 1963 when Ronald McDonald made his corporate debut, appealing to very young children and building brand loyalty that could last a lifetime. Things were different back then; fast food was not something to be indulged in every day, but an occasional “treat.”

We’ve come a long way since the sixties. Fast food restaurants crowd the landscape, alluring young customers with high calorie foods that have little nutritional value. Fast food has infiltrated the daily diet of many children, sometimes served multiple times a day, and is clearly a major contributor to the problem of childhood obesity and its related health problems. I dare say that parents must shoulder a share of the responsibility as well.

In his favor, the cheerful clown also lends his name to Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children. Ronald McDonald houses are located around the world and offer families a place to stay when children are undergoing hospital treatment.

So the question is, has Ronald McDonald lived beyond his prime? Would his retirement have a meaningful effect on childhood obesity? Is it time to hand Ronald his gold watch?

I believe the problem is larger and more complicated than that. Ronald McDonald… junk food pusher or just a convenient fall guy?

I’m looking forward to the poll results on this one!

Photo: - CC BY 2.0


W. C
W. C9 months ago


William C
William C9 months ago

Thank you for the article.

Ron T.
Ron T.7 years ago

McDonalds offer unhealthy foods that put your children's health at risk. McDonalds, however, is not bringing up your children. It's time we all started taking responsibility for the choices we make instead of looking for someone else to blame

Jenette D.
Jenette D7 years ago

It's not eating ad Mc D's that's the problem, its kids eating at MC D's 2-3 times a day that's the problem.

Even kids who never eat at fast food places but gorge themsevles on soda, nachos and candy bars will show the same obesity levels as the ones who live off fast food.

Commercials pimping junk food that are regularly found everywhere only helps compound the issue that "to be cool" you need to drink Pepsi, eat M&M's etc.. This leads kids and even young adults into being more likely to purchase unhealthy snack foods then fruits or salads to go.

Combine that with the higher cost of healthy food over junk foods and it becomes more affordable for kids to buy junk food when they're hungry and more affordable for parents to stock the house with unhealthy snack foods. ( .50-$1 for a soda compared to $2-$3 for a juice drink, an sinle orange going for $2.89 compared to potato chips at .99 cents, or an entire bag of cheetos for $2.49)

Kay L.
KayL NOFORWARDS7 years ago

I know lots of skinny people who eat at Mickey D's all the time, too. So why is everyone here assuming that anybody who eatsthere is a fat slob (and incidentally exhibiting the last PC prejudice, which is against plus-sized folks, even the healthy ones)? Or that any child who likes the occasional MD treat is going to get fat?

Susie Z.
Susie Z7 years ago

I'm tired of hearing people make excuses for excessive weight - whether it's not having the time to make/serve/eat healthy food or get in a reasonable amount of exercise. I have personally fought excess weight for much of my life, and am now in a place where it is finally under control. There was/is no magic pill, it was hard work to get here and it is hard work to stay here, but once you start eating healthy food, your body craves that healthy food and tends to react negatively to anything unhealthy that you put in your body. Let's not blame Ronald - he's a figurehead, for gosh sakes! It's time that people faced the truth and do the right thing. Stop eating crappy, nutritionally empty food, and please stop feeding it to your kids! Nuff said.

michael c.
corbin m7 years ago

The kiddies aren't the ones with the jobs supporting their mchabit. Poor Ronald. He doesn't help, but...totally convenient fall guy. Parents, theirs a word that your parents should have taught you. NO. Pass it on to your children. In time, they'll thank you for it.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado7 years ago

Dont blame Ronald, blame the parents instead.

Caroline L.
Caroline L7 years ago

Some fat people ride bikes or walk every day for miles and miles (I know two right now) and have great cholesterol and blood pressure but they are labeled "obese" and again, I iterate, weight does not equate to health. Each person must be assessed on a case by case basis and our commercially oriented society has to stop insisting that we all fit into a demographic mold. We are not all customers for the same products. We are not all the same. So each child must be looked at individually and fed in the appropriate manner. Fruits and vegetables NEVER hurt. But weight profiling does. Let's work hard at this and get it right. Our future generations depend on us for this much.

Caroline L.
Caroline L7 years ago

A lot of obesity is medical or genetic and we need to deal head on with that. My family has thyroid trouble and there is a streak of obesity here because of that. But where it's not, it's the families fault. They need to get their priorities straight. Work is fine but being so driven to make money to buy more useless stuff is ridiculous if it's killing you. Everyone needs to take the time to make up decent food for the kids. Not just fast food, canned food and frozen bagel bites. But real food. If more people did this, kids would learn to like fruit and vegetables and not be so addicted to chips and cookies. I know a family that raised their daughter strictly on health food and to this day she loves veggies, fruits and fiber. She has never had a weight problem so she stands as an example. Granted, this may also be partly genetic because her parents were both thin (health food or genetics? The jury is out). On the other hand, I know several young women who eat nothing but junk food like potato chip sandwiches and bagel bites and they are thin. I mean VERY thin. So again I vote for genetics. Also, another point. As you must know, thinness does not equate to healthy. Many thin people have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fluid retention and the other signs of eating too much salt and fat. They don't exercise, they smoke, they drink too much. I think it's all an individual matter. Some fat people ride bikes or walk every day for miles and miles (I know tw