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McDonald's marketing of unhealthy food to kids using toys is deceptive and undermines parent's efforts to raise healthy children.  A recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study found that fast-food companies spend $520 million every year on advertising and toys to market children's meals.  

McDonald's has pledged to only advertise meals to children that meet its nutrition standards (through the Council of Better Business Bureau's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative). But even if the fast food chain only shows Apple Dippers and low-fat milk on TV ads, kids are drawn to McDonald's with the promise of a toy. Once children are in the restaurant, they can select fattening fries and soda with their Happy Meals. A recent study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) found that 93 percent of the children's meal combinations available at McDonald's are too high in calories. When children or parents order Happy Meals, they are automatically given French fries 93 percent of the time, and offered soda first 78 percent of the time.

"But regardless of the nutritional quality of what's being sold, the practice of tempting kids with toys is inherently deceptive," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "I'm sure that industry's defenders will blame parents for not saying ‘no' to their children. Parents do bear much of the responsibility, but multi-billion-dollar corporations make parents' job nearly impossible by giving away toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising."

Please urge McDonald's to only sell healthy kids' meal options and stop using toys to market junk food to children.


Letter to
CEO/McDonald's Jim Skinner
Communications Officer/McDonald's William Whitman
Given current sky-high child obesity rates, I urge you to stop marketing Happy Meals using toys. Happy Meal toys undermine parents’ efforts to feed their children healthfully. They also deceive kids, who don’t understand the nature of marketing, using their desire for the toy to sell the unhealthy food that usually accompanies it.

While Shrek may appear on packaging for low-fat milk and Apple Dippers, when children or parents order Happy Meals, they are usually given French fries and offered a soft drink.

Please stop marketing unhealthy food to children using Happy Meal toys.

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