After Olympic Criticism, McDonald’s Spins Menu to Look Healthier
Junk food makers have been supporting the Olympics for ages—Coca-Cola has been a sponsor since 1928 and McDonald's since 1976. But this year, health organizations are getting especially fired up over the idea that companies that make bad-for-you foods are permitted to financially support the world’s greatest display of physical fitness.
Michael Jacobson, executive director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, DC-based watchdog group, recently wrote an editorial expressing frustration over the fact that by associating their brand names with the fittest people on the planet (via inspiring TV ads, not Big Macs and sugary soft drinks), McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are able to make people forget that their foods promote obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. And Jacobson isn't the only one who's alarmed. In his piece, he points to a number of organizations, including the London Assembly and the British medical journal The Lancet, and even IOC president Jacques Rogge, who have also acknowledged the situation’s irony.
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By the time the 2016 summer games begin in Rio de Janeiro, Jacobson hopes that Olympic officials will have set guidelines for sponsors that require them to promote and sell healthier items.
And McDonald’s is already on it. In response to Olympics-related criticism, the fast food joint rolled out a (red, white, and blue) “Favorites Under 400 Calories” menu, which breaks down options that are available for under 400, 300, 200, and 100 calories apiece. But if healthy eating at McDonald’s sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. Instead of improving the nutrition content of its food, the chain simply highlighted lower-calorie items from its existing menu, ignoring the fact that these foods are still high in fat, sugar, and sodium. For example, the 390-calorie Angus Bacon & Cheese Snack Wrap packs 1,080 mg of sodium, almost half the amount of salt you should limit yourself to each day. A Hot Fudge Sundae will set you back 330 calories and 48 g of sugar—that's 12 teaspoons' worth.
What do you think? Should McDonald’s be permitted to sponsor the Olympics without giving its menu a (real) makeover?
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