In a major press conference yesterday, McDonald’s, alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, unveiled a new line of “Go Active” meals – the fast-food giant’s response to having created a nation of fatties. Not only will these adult “Happy Meals” contain bottled water, McDonald’s will also include a brochure encouraging adults to walk more. With this bold move McDonald’s has made it clear – the obesity epidemic ends here. Or as Secretary Tom Tom put it, “It’s important to recognize companies doing the right thing.”
If McDonald’s adult campaign is anywhere near as exhaustive or successful as their children’s crusade, we may be certain that “Go Active” will have absolutely no impact at all. The What’s On Your Plate program encourages kids to stay fit through a variety of techniques intended to teach them “how to maintain a balanced diet and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. By talking to kids in their language, [it] tackles important questions such as, ‘Is it ok to eat cake everyday?’ and ‘Why does mom want me to eat all different foods?'” That’s right, the important questions.
“What’s On Your Plate’s” mascot is Willie Munchright, who looks more like he should feature in an animated version of Super Size Me than any anti-obesity campaign. Pasty and pale Master Munchright has dark bags under his eyes; he also appears to be losing his hair. He’s a kind of Edward Gorey vision of the average McDonald’s consumer. But with answers like these appearing on the McDonald’s website, who could be surprised that little Willie’s HDL might be a little high?
Q: Can McDonald’s food be part of a healthy, balanced diet?
A: Yes. Many nutrition professionals agree that McDonald’s food can be part of a healthy diet based on the sound nutrition principles of balance, variety and moderation.
Q: What role does fast food play in obesity?
A: Health experts the world over – including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Dietetic Association – agree that no single factor is responsible for obesity.
On May 6, “Go Active” meals will be available in McDonald’s nationwide. And if these exciting steps forward really do change America’s eating habits, we can all look forward to a summer filled with even more toned hardbodies than usual.