McDonald's Investors: We Don't Want to Talk About Childhood Obesity

At the chain's annual shareholder meeting, bigwigs decided against assessing the company's impact on obesity.
As a leader in the fast food industry, what is McDonald's role in combatting obesity? (Global X/Creative Commons)
May 24, 2012
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

McDonald's investors aren't budging, and they're not talking—at least not about obesity

At their annual shareholder meeting Thursday, McDonald's investors rejected an anti-obesity proposal that would have required the corporation to assess its impact on childhood obesity, reports Reuters. Instead, investors spent most of their time lauding the departing CEO Jim Skinner, who received a standing ovation. In a speech, Skinner said the corporation has done "more than anybody in the industry around fruits and vegetables and variety and choice."

As a major leader in the industry, McDonald's is often the target of health and food advocates vying for changes from the top. One in three American children are obese or overweight, and a solution is desperately needed. But this year's meeting was no different than last, when the same proposal was rejected.

This year's anti-obesity proposal had the backing of Corporate Accountability International (a watchdog group) and was endorsed by 2,500 cardiologists, pediatricians, and other healthcare professionals. It called on McDonald's to analyze and publish a report on its "health footprint" and report on how diet-related illness could affect the corporation's bottom line.

But after shrinking the size of Kid's Meal fries and offering apples as an alternative side dish—changes that some say are merely paying lip service while advertisements continue to target children—investors said they felt that the report would be "unnecessary and redundant." 

Incoming CEO Don Thompson offered little hope that next year's meeting would be any different.

"We have been very responsible," he said. 

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