Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Shareholders and Top Doctors Demand McDonald’s Assess Its Health Impacts

Civil Eats

By Sara Deon

Today in Oak Brook, Illinois the world’s most well-recognized purveyor of unhealthy food will hold its annual shareholders’ meeting. Usually a forum to showcase profits made at the expense of the public’s health, food advocates and health professionals will be giving the burger giant’s dog and pony show pause.

For a second straight year, shareholders will vote on a resolution requiring McDonald’s to publicly assess its impacts on the nation’s health. The resulting report would, no doubt, be damning. After all, no fast food corporation sells more high-fat, -salt, -sugar, and -calorie junk food worldwide. No fast food corporation spends more marketing its unhealthy offerings. And perhaps no food corporation has had a greater impact on how we eat or how food is grown.

As Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser puts it: even if you don’t eat McDonald’s-style fast food “you’re eating food produced by the same system.” In other words, McDonald’s, as the nation’s leading purchaser of staples like beef, pork and potatoes, isn’t just putting unhealthy food on plastic trays, it’s shaping the unhealthy methods by which its produced. Factory farms, the overuse of pesticides–you name it–McDonald’s is in some way behind it, including the harm to animals, our drinking water, the environment and our health an externality.

That’s why this first-of-its-kind resolution is so groundbreaking. It would give us a sense of what a Big Mac and fries truly costs. Not only that, it would give shareholders a sense of the financial risk the corporation could ultimately face for continuing to saddle the public with its externalized costs.

As recently documented in AdAge, McDonald’s brand image is out of sync with sales, with McDonald’s consistently ranking near the bottom of its industry in quality perception. Analysts warn if this trend continues the pendulum could well swing for the corporation’s profitability.

Dr. Andrew Bremer, a pediatric endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will speak to these points at the meeting. He is part of a growing network of more than 2,500 health professionals  that are partnering with my organization, Corporate Accountability International, to compel industry-leader McDonald’s to change course as the corporation’s leadership changes hands. CEO Jim Skinner will be stepping down this month, with COO Don Thompson stepping in.

Corporate Accountability International and partners like Dr. Bremer see no reason to wait for the results of the resolution-sanctioned report to come in for the new CEO to reduce the corporation’s “health footprint.” For one, there is a growing body of research, including a recent Institute of Medicine study, highlighting the importance of limiting junk food marketing to children and adolescents in reducing disease rates. To this end the network has called for McDonald’s to stop marketing junk food to kids, helping compel the American Academy of Pediatrics to take an even more strident stance–an outright ban on junk food marketing to kids.

And most recently, the network called on hospital administrators to give McDonald’s franchises the boot. Cleveland Clinic led the charge–affirming it would not renew McDonald’s contract. A study in the journal Pediatrics has found that citing fast food in health care settings earns brands like McDonald’s an undeserved association with healthfulness. Needless to say, McDonald’s has long built brand loyalty by nutriwashing its image–a practice that needs to stop.

Grassroots pressure is only building. Since the initial introduction of the resolution at last year’s meeting, McDonald’s has made changes to its Happy Meals and competitors have scaled back their marketing to kids.

As these things go, resolutions are not expected to pass over the opposition of the Board. But bringing it to the floor before shareholders will again put the corporation on notice, compelling CEO Thompson to lend a more sympathetic ear to the concerns of health care providers and Civil Eats readers like you.

  • Click here to call on hospital administrators to give McDonald’s the boot.
  • Click here to call on McDonald’s CEO to stop marketing junk food to kids.

Visit EcoWatch's FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
A baby receives limited treatment at a hospital in Yemen on June 27, 2020. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less