Down with the clown

Everyone knows who Ronald McDonald is—the friendly clown who is the face of the fast-food giant McDonald’s.

Everyone knows who Ronald McDonald is—the friendly clown who is the face of the fast-food giant McDonald’s. If some parents get their way, however, Ronald McDonald may just become a thing of the past.

With childhood obesity being such a prominent problem today, most people are more concerned with health foods now more than ever. Local parents and doctors are asking McDonald’s to ban Ronald McDonald because they are tired of the marketing that targets kids for unhealthy food.

On Feb. 2, a group of parents and doctors presented a petition with 500 signatures to the Cedar Mill McDonald’s and the representatives of Don Armstrong, owner of 14 McDonald’s restaurants in the Portland area.

Last time I checked, Ronald McDonald was not the one shoving McDonald’s food down children’s throats and he certainly did not drive them to a McDonald’s to get food nor did he pay for their food.

So then was it the kids themselves who drove to McDonald’s, paid for a Happy Meal and then ate it? Sure, the idea of kids driving and paying for a Happy Meal sounds just a bit ridiculous and a tad unrealistic. But the question still remains: Who is taking these kids to McDonald’s and paying for their Happy Meals?

The only remaining culprits are the parents.

Parents are the ones who are taking their kids to eat at McDonald’s. They are driving them there and paying for their food. Just because your child wants junk food does not mean that you as a parent have to succumb to their fast food cravings.

Instead of being part of an anti fast-food group, or taking time to picket McDonald’s and asking for petition signatures—perhaps one should take that time and use it to spend time with their kids, teaching them how to eat right or taking them out to exercise.

Most people realize that McDonald’s is not the most ethical company by any means, which may make them out to be an even bigger target than other fast food favorites who also set their marketing sights on kids.

There is also a sense of moral responsibility involved here. Should a company market crap food to kids? But ultimately the decision to feed children fast food lies within the powers of the parents. Trying to change some large company’s mascot is a lot more work than just saying “no” to your kids.

With childhood obesity becoming a significant concern, it is easy to fault fast food chains such as McDonald’s. McDonald’s is aware of this, however, and has begun providing kids with the option of low fat milk or juice instead of a soft drink and apple slices instead of fries.

Some parents were not pleased with this decision because when they would Super Size their order with fries and a soft drink, then force the kids to eat apple slices and milk, the kids would not be happy. And who can

really blame them when they are first to eat the “healthy” (but still actually unhealthy) items while their parents go to town on a Big Mac and fries. How is that fair?

The best way to teach good behaviors in children is to model those behaviors for them. If a parent is exercising regularly and eating healthy, then the child is more likely to exhibit those behaviors as well.

Recently, several McDonald’s restaurants in California, including San Francisco and Silicon Valley, have decided to ban Happy Meal toys. The ban is not completely effective until 2012, but stores are slowly pulling out their toys.

The purpose of the ban is so that kids are not as tempted by unhealthy food choices because they do not have the incentive of a free toy. A Happy Meal is not all that happy without a toy, right? Well, news flash parents: Happy Meals are still directed at kids and you still have the power to say “no.”

Now that parents are working on trying to get Ronald banned, what else is next? There is always going to be something that parents do not like about what their kids want, but they do not have the guts to deny it to the children themselves.

In reality, this whole thing can be solved with a simple two-letter word: It starts with an “N” and ends with an “O.” Parents are the ones who are in control of what their kids eat and how often they exercise.

Here is a novel idea: Instead of launching a campaign of complaining, how about they actually try a little active parenting. ?