Stop tricking kids into eating your food all the time, a 9-year-old girl told Don Thompson, McDonald's Corp. CEO, at the company's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.
At the corporate headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Ill., Hannah Robertson of Kelowna, British Columbia challenged the company's marketing practices, noting how it uses toys and cartoon characters.
"Something that I don't think is fair is when big companies try to trick kids into eating food that isn't good for them by using toys and cartoon characters," Hannah said. "If parents haven't taught their kids about healthy eating then the kids probably believe that junk food is good for them because it might taste good."
"It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time."
The fourth-grader is no stranger to nutrition information; her mom, Kia Robertson, created the Today I Ate A Rainbow kit, which encourages kids to make healthy food choices, and works with Corporate Accountability International's "Moms Are Not Lovin' It" campaign, which challenges the fast food giant's "predatory marketing to kids."
"I make cooking videos with my mom that show kids that eating healthy can be fun and yummy," said Hannah. "We teach them that eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies makes kids healthier, smarter and happier because that is the truth."
"Mr. Thompson, don't you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life?" concluded Hannah.
Thompson's response may come as a surprise to anyone who's seen a McDonald's menu.
"First off, we don't sell junk food, Hannah," the CEO said, and pointed out that the company sells apple slices and salads.
Ahead of their trip to the meeting, Kia Robertson wrote on her blog:
I know how sensitive the subject of feeding kids can be, so just as I did in my #MomsNotLovinIt blog post, I want to say again that this campaign is not about making parents feel bad about feeding their kids McDonald’s food. No one is a bad parent based on whether their kids eat happy meals and everyone has the right to feed their children whatever they like, so by no means is this meant as a negative judgement. We are talking about big corporations that are going out of their way to get around parents (they call them gatekeepers) to undermine the healthy eating habits they are trying to set for their children. We are asking that they stop going after our kids so that parents can raise and feed their children without having to deal with the Pester Power that companies like McDonald’s love to encourage. Did you know that approximately 75% of parents say they have bought a product for the first time because their child asked for it? That’s pester power in action! If something seems easier, faster, cheaper and will get your kids to eat it’s no wonder fast food is so popular. [...]
We can’t avoid looking at the sad statistics of the growing rates of childhood obesity, diabetes and other diseases. The bad news is that much of this is related to the food our children are eating…the good news is that much of this is related to the food children are eating which means we have the power to turn this around!!!!! As you know our mission is to get kids hooked on healthy eating by focusing on eating a rainbow every day, so that is why we are thrilled to have the opportunity to go to the McDonald’s shareholders meeting and tell them that this generation of kids doesn’t need their junk food or their marketing…they need to Eat Rainbows, Play Outside and have Fun with their Family and Friends!