Last week, we expressed our disappointment at McDonald’s return as a sponsor at this year’s California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference.
As we have explained over the years, our concerns with companies like McDonald’s go beyond what is on the menu and focus more on corporate behavior.
Consider, for instance, a new study, covered by the Sydney Morning Herald, that examined the food industry’s broken promises on regulating itself on marketing to children (McDonald’s is identified as the worst offender).
- “Public health experts say the food industry is failing to self-regulate and the government needs to urgently intervene to help curb Australia’s soaring childhood obesity rates.”
- “A study by Cancer Council NSW and Sydney University researchers found children are being exposed to an average of three unhealthy food advertisements every hour they watch TV during peak periods – same as five years ago.”
- “Wendy Watson, the council’s nutrition programs manager, said the lack of reduction in unhealthy foods ads seen by children meant the industry’s self-regulation initiatives – introduced in 2009 – were not working.”
- “For almost eight years now junk food companies have been able to take advantage of these weak, self-defined codes because there has been nothing to stop them from doing so,” she said.”
- “McDonald’s dominated the fast food category, accounting for 47 per cent of fast food ads, followed by KFC and Hungry Jack’s.”
- “Ms Watson says the codes had “loopholes”, including the requirement that a third of the audience had to be children for an ad to be considered targeting children. “We observed that in Sydney alone there were 40,000 children watching the rugby league and 30,000 watching Masterchef, but they only made up about 10 per cent of the audience, so a junk food ad in those shows would still technically comply,” she continued.
Rather than provide the likes of McDonald’s with the privilege of sponsoring a dietetics conference, how about holding them responsible for unethical behavior and hold an educational session on why food marketing to children should be a public health priority?