As we’ve mentioned previously in this page, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has fairly close ties to McDonald’s and Yum! Brands (which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and WingStreet).
McDonald’s, for instance, is a sponsor at the annual California Dietetic Association meeting (it also is the purveyor of lunch for all attendees), ans its Director of Nutrition spoke at the Utah State Dietetic Association meeting earlier this year. Meanwhile, Yum! Brands is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Exhibitor Advisory Council.
Not surprisingly, these companies often like to tout their “commitments to health” and their concern for the wellbeing of Americans (especially children).
That all sounds great on press releases, but what do the facts show? Thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, we can look at actual data.
According to the organizations’ new 2013 Fast Food Facts report:
- “In 2012 the fast food industry spent $4.6 billion to advertise mostly unhealthy products, and children and teens remained key audiences for that advertising, according to a new report by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.”
- “Three-fifths of fast food restaurants increased TV advertising to older children. Domino’s and Wendy’s advertising went up 44% and 13%, respectively.”
- * “McDonald’s continued to advertise more to children than to teens or adults on TV – the only restaurant to do so.”
- “McDonald’s display ads for Happy Meals increased 63% to 31 million ads monthly. Three-quarters appeared on kids’ websites, such as Nick.com, Roblox.com, and CartoonNetwork.com.“
While the report points out some areas of improvement since the last report (released in 2009), there is undoubtedly a lot more work that needs to be done. One great starting point would be for health organizations to join in this report’s recommendations and hold fast food chains accountable, rather than willingly offer a partnership that provides enviable PR.