The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Christine Chester, 617-695-2525
Sarah Dotlich, 617-942-1825

Growing Number of Shareholders Vote for McDonald's to Assess its Health Impacts

Health professionals call for junk food giant to leave hospitals, stop marketing to kids


Today McDonald's shareholders voted on a resolution requiring the corporation to publicly assess its impacts on public health. The resolution received a 6.4 percent vote, up from an introductory 5.9 percent vote last year - impressive showings for a measure opposed by the Board and challenged at the SEC by the corporation.

The vote comes on the heels of a new Institute of Medicine study that again highlights the importance of addressing food marketing to children and adolescents. It also follows the premier of HBO's "Weight of the Nation," a series documenting the institutional factors contributing to the deterioration of the country's health.

Corporate Accountability International partnered with a growing network of health professionals to call on McDonald's to stop driving the epidemic of diet related disease. As part of the initiative, health professionals are helping to raise visibility and build support for the resolution. The organization and health professionals also recently called on hospital administrators to give McDonald's franchises the boot. Last year, 500 of the nation's leading pediatricians, cardiologists, and more launched the network by calling on the corporation to stop marketing junk food to kids. Its numbers have since swelled to more than 2500, with members from all 50 states.

"McDonald's can no longer ignore the spiraling costs of its business practices on our children's health and on our healthcare system," said Dr. Andrew Bremer, a pediatric endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who spoke in support of the resolution from the floor of the shareholders' meeting. "This issue is not only critical to the health and well-being of generations to come, but also to shareholders who should be better informed about the liabilities associated with the businesses they're investing in."

The resolution would compel the Board of Directors to assess how the growing body of evidence linking fast food and its marketing with diet-related conditions will impact McDonald's finances and operations.

As recently documented in AdAge, McDonald's image is not keeping pace with sales, with McDonald's consistently ranking near the bottom of its industry in quality perception. Analysts warn if this trend continues the pendulum could swing for the corporation's profitability.

And while the corporation has been compelled to take some initial steps since the resolution's introduction, such as changing its Happy Meals McDonald's has also lavished millions on PR aimed to nutriwashing away public health concerns.

"McDonald's new leadership can hedge like its predecessors, allowing short-term profits to obscure the looming risks to the corporation's long-term profitability," said Kelle Louaillier, executive director of Corporate Accountability International. "Or incoming CEO Thompson and his team can take a sobering and public look at how inextricably linked McDonald's business practices are with today's health crisis. There is far too much at stake for the health of our children to substitute PR for substantive change."

Statements delivered by health care providers and Corporate Accountability International at today's meeting:

Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) is a membership organization that has, for the last 35 years, successfully advanced campaigns protecting health, the environment and human rights. Value [the] Meal is Corporate Accountability International's campaign dedicated to reversing the global epidemic of diet-related disease by challenging the fast food industry to curb a range of its practices.

Corporate Accountability stops transnational corporations from devastating democracy, trampling human rights, and destroying our planet.

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