On Thursday, McDonald’s declared that it would start taking nutrition into account when it comes to child-aimed advertising and menu items, according to a New York Times article entitled “With Tastes Growing Healthier, McDonald’s Aims to Adapt Its Menu.”
Well, it’s about time, isn’t it?
After decades of being the object of countless criticisms by nutritionists, doctors and people in general, McDonald’s is finally making an attempt to change its stigma.
Such changes will involve menu alterations and a new sensitivity to nutrition in child-aimed advertising.
Now, parents are encouraged to buy juice, low-fat milk or water with their children’s Happy Meals while buying a “healthy” value meal consisting of a sandwich or wrap, French fries (or a side salad, a piece of fruit or a vegetable) and a drink for themselves.
While this all sounds magnificent in writing, I can’t help but be wary. I mean, is McDonald’s—the company that has earned a reputation as the worst fast-food “restaurant” in America—really going to start making an effort to make children eat healthier?
When I was 9, I stopped eating food from McDonald’s because it tasted too fake for me. If my 9-year-old, unrefined taste buds could tell the difference between artificial and real flavors, imagine how I felt when I conceded to eat an order of McNuggets a few years later when McDonald’s was the only place open that late at night.
I’ll give you a hint. It was so repellent that even my ballet-worn body couldn’t ingest it.
One other memorable experience I’ve had with Mickey D’s occurred only a year or two ago. Thankfully, this time it did not involve actually eating McDonald’s food.
I was at a doctor’s office for some reason, and noticed an interesting bulletin board on my way out.
The title, “What Fast-Food Really Is,” was placed above an array of Ziploc bags filled with sugar, salt and fat. Half the board was dedicated solely to McDonald’s (mainly because their bags contained the largest amount of sugar, salt and fat).
After that, I resolved never to eat McDonald’s again, something that I have managed to do quite easily.
Given these experiences, it’s no wonder that I am hesitant to believe McDonald’s executives.
Sure, if McDonald’s really has had a change of heart, that’s great. Anything that improves the nutritional quality of fast food is a good thing.
Nonetheless, I suspect that most of these changes were initiated by a desire to improve McDonald’s image and, consequently, to increase sales and profit.
If that’s true, then the quality of the fruits and vegetables added to the menu probably won’t improve and the unhealthy aspects of the menu won’t be changed (is MacDo really going to get rid of its double-double option?).
Let’s just say I won’t be breaking my “no-McDonald’s” resolution any time soon.