McDonald's marketing called out in national ad campaign

This week's print edition of City Pages includes a full-page ad in which 550 health professionals and health organizations ask McDonald's to retire Ronald McDonald and stop marking unhealthy food to kids.

The letter, which is also running in the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Metro, Boston Metro, San Francisco Examiner, and Baltimore City Paper, bears the weighty signatures of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU nutrition and public heath professor Marion Nestle, and integrative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil among many others.

The signees, organized by the nonprofit watchdog group Corporate Accountability International, are asking McDonald's to take responsibility for its marketing's impact on childhood obesity and to assess its company's "health footprint."

In writing about the letter, The Wall Street Journal noted that food makers who market to kids are increasingly be asked to monitor what they're encouraging kids to eat. Last year, San Francisco passed an ordinance that established nutritional standards for kids' meals that come with toys. Last month, federal regulators proposed voluntary standards for marketing food to children and teens that would include having meals be required to contain a certain amount of healthy items (fruits, vegetables, lean meats) and limit items with excessive sodium, sugar, fat and calories.

What do you think? Should food makers be left to their own devices or should the marketing of junk food to youth be more heavily regulated, as tobacco is?

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