Health professionals to McDonald's: For the children's sake, let's retire Ronald McDonald

Remember what I was saying last night about the growing obsession with children’s weight? Yeah.

This is why kids love McD’s burgers and their amazing, amazing fries, I guess. Because of the clown they’ve seen on TV maybe once, who’s never actually at the restaurant whenever they show up.

More than 550 health professionals and organizations have signed a letter to McDonald’s Corp. asking the maker of Happy Meals to stop marketing junk food to kids and retire Ronald McDonald.

The letter, slated to run in the form of full-page ads in six metropolitan newspapers around the country on Wednesday, acknowledges that “the contributors to today’s (health) epidemic are manifold and a broad societal response is required. But marketing can no longer be ignored as a significant part of this massive problem.”…

The campaign also includes an effort to get McDonald’s to produce a report assessing its “health footprint.” A shareholder’s resolution, submitted by the watchdog group and The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, calls on McDonald’s to tally the financial impact of fighting various measures like the San Francisco ordinance passed last year that established nutritional standards for kids’ meals that come with toys. It will be voted on at McDonald’s annual meeting on Thursday…

The letter from the health providers urges McDonald’s to cease marketing food high in salt, fat, sugar and calories to kids, from the use of Ronald McDonald to Happy Meal toys.

Serious question from an infrequent television viewer: Does Ronald McDonald actually appear in McDonald’s ads anymore? When I think of McD’s commercials, I tend to think of either the schmaltzy “parents and kids bonding over sharing fries” stuff or the “overly chipper register guy/girl describes how awesome McMuffins are” clips. Ronald never much mattered, which makes this particular gripe somehow even stupider than the anti-Happy Meal crusade. At least, with the latter, you can understand how the gimmick lures kids in even while you decry the nannyism involved in taking away a parent’s choice. With Ronald, it’s much harder to see the damage. Amid a galaxy of advertisements aimed at kids, with cartoons and puppets and F/X to make your head spin, some freaky deaky clown is something to worry about because it might get them to talk mom into treating them to a burger once every few weeks? Seriously?

If we’re going to take out a figurehead as allegedly evil as this, I prefer to do it the old-fashioned way by sending in SEALs to shoot him in the face. For your viewing pleasure, here’s CNN reporting on a guy who recently devoured — no joke — his 25,000th Big Mac. Shouldn’t he have died long ago, a victim to the lethal lipid vengeance of Ronald McDonald?

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