Michaels: Look to yourself before blaming Ronald for kids being fat

In an increasingly mirthless society, it’s no surprise the clowny face of McDonald's has come under fire.

In an increasingly mirthless time, it’s no surprise the clowny face of McDonald’s has come under fire.

One shouldn’t laugh at the prospect of obesity, should they? In fact, when parents cruise the McDonald’s drive-thru for some saturated fats, they should cry in shame. And their children should be as dour as the starving masses in your developing-nation-of-choice when they reach for their Happy (soon to be renamed Miserable) Meal.

Then, once the family has dined on their greasy treats, they should waddle around in shame, lamenting the calories Ronald McDonald compelled them to consume.

Or so must go the thinking of a group called Corporate Accountability International. At a McDonald’s shareholder meeting Thursday, they unsuccessfully called for the ouster of Ronald, using a petition and letter that included the following:

“As one marketing expert puts it, ‘Ronald captures kids’ attention better than anyone else can.’ You use Ronald McDonald and other promotions to appeal to kids in environments that informed parents and health professionals can’t constantly monitor—from schools to libraries to the Internet. Today, your icon is as recognized as Santa Claus, and the McDonald’s model of marketing is used by a range of abusive industries.”

What do you think? Is it as simple as marketing? Are we, as a society, so stupid? Most importantly, is a Ronald rendezvous actually a draw?

Personally, I don’t find the yellow jumpsuit and red wig all that compelling. And I can’t imagine that the “mystery” hold burgers, fries and pop have on children will be broken when the freaky homage to the ’70s has been removed from the marketing plan. But then again, I was more of a Ham Burglar and Grimace girl—may they rest in retired marketing plans peace.

Ultimately, the proliferation of fat kids lies solely in the realm of an increasingly lazy and irresponsible society.

No judgments, of course. It’s easy, as a non-breeder, to say “one day, I’ll be teaching my minions the wonders of eating carrots from their own garden.” The only thing I know I can guarantee is that when my time comes, if I’m still a reporter, I’ll only be able to afford one burger. And let me tell you, I won’t be passing it to the back of the minivan.

But I digress.

If obesity is to be treated as the health threat of our time, offing Ronald isn’t the cure. It’s just another example of the problem.

Quick fixes and  fall guys are a dime a dozen, so perhaps the health care providers who are so concerned with the condition of today’s children should strive to impart some examples of the best way forward.

It’s not the barrel of laughs approach, but we all have to take responsibility for maintaining our own health —Not Ronald, he can’t even dress himself properly.

Kathy Michaels is a staff reporter for the Kelowna Capital News.


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