Friday, May 20, 2011

Doctors Want to Oust Ronald McDonald

McDonald’s shareholders opt to keep iconic clown

Updated: Thursday, 19 May 2011, 11:21 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 19 May 2011, 11:21 PM CDT

by Tom Lyden / FOX 9 News

For better or worse, Ronald McDonald has been a part of many childhoods. His name is attached to fast food and charity, but now a lot of doctors want him to be history.

As America struggles with a childhood obesity epidemic, many pediatricians said they believe the iconic clown is part of the problem. With 17 percent of all children considered obese, the doctors argue that Ronald McDonald gets them hooked early on fast food.

In a Thursday night meeting in Chicago, McDonald’s shareholders rejected that idea, and the CEO announced that the clown will stick around.

Though he is the face of the brand, customers would have to look long and hard to find the clown at a McDonald’s location -- and even the kids say he’s been missing in action. Health professionals say the reason his face is hidden is because of the shame that follows encouraging kids to load up on junk food.

A Happy Meal with fries and McNuggets tallies in at 420 calories and includes 23 grams of fat and 560 mg of sodium. That’s why health advocates -- including 43 from Minnesota -- said they are asking the company to fire it’s figurehead after 48 years.

Yet, there is one place where Ronald is still a revered star: The Ronald McDonald House, which helps 4,000 sick children and their families annually.

A percentage of each Happy Meal ends up at the charity, which relies on local franchises for a quarter of its budget.

Studies have suggested the real culprit behind childhood obesity isn’t just fast food -- it’s poverty. Where else can a child be fed for under $3?

McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner said the decision to keep the clown stems from the personal and individual right to choose.

McDonald’s has been on a business roll lately, with shares up 12 percent. On Thursday, they closed at a record high.

Read more: Doctors Want to Oust Ronald McDonald

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