McDonalds sponsor school reports

February 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, featured, Food & Nutrition

Given the huge fuss about improving the diet of school children and weaning them off fast and junk food diets, there is disturbing news from the USA where McDonald’s have just paid $1,700 to produce the school reports for Seminole County, in Florida. What do they get out of it? The report cards feature a cover jacket with a coupon featuring their trademark Ronald McDonald. Apparently for ‘good grades and attendance’ (undefined), the coupon can be redeemed for a free Happy Meal.

Sounds a bit like bribery to me and certainly would appear to violate the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which McDonald’s joined last year which unequivocally states that members are not allowed to advertise at schools and cannot place materials in editorial or entertainment content. It appears that McDonald’s have found a loophole because as the report cards are sent straight to the home they may not be easily classifiable as editorial or entertainment and the school board officials concerned call the report cards a ‘business partnership’ which assist with lack of funding in their school system.

Many parents are unhappy because parents who don’t want their children eating from McDonalds are put under pressure if they won’t take the coupon and the free Happy Meal. The frequent childhood complaint of ‘all my friends are going there’ is being heard and it is hard on parents to feel they are singling their child out of what is seen as a ‘reward’ for doing well at school.

There is certainly no doubt that the type of diet a child has definitely makes a difference to their school performance. A well balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains give a child the best chance of developing healthy both physically and mentally.

McDonald’s is no stranger to criticism about the nutritional value of its products and has hit back with high-level advertising and information campaigns scarce on nutritional qualities. McDonald’s defended its Happy Meals, citing that a child could choose a low calorie Happy Meal of Chicken McNuggets, apple dippers, and low fat milk. The combination may be low calorie, but it contains MSG, food colouring, and sodium benzoate.

They have added “healthy” choices to their menus, but who knows a child who goes for the healthy option? The ever popular burger may have traceable-source beef but the bun itself is not a healthy option as McDonald’s still bleaches all of its grains used to create the buns and effectively kills any goodness in the flour. Bleaching most bread creates a poison called alloxon, which has produced diabetes in lab animals so you may want to follow the example of Jack Nicholson in 5 Easy Pieces and tell them to ‘hold the bun.’

Of course an occasional burger will not cause a huge problem, but if you are concerned about what’s in McDonald’s food then you can check the ingredients by typing the words McDonalds ingredients into Google or any search engine and several links will come up to show you exactly what you might be eating.