Does McDonald’s Overstep?

It has been a while since we caught up with McDonald’s, often blamed as the instigator of much childhood obesity. The company has been up to some new tricks. First of all, there is fresh news, according to writer M. Smith who says,

McDonald’s first plant-based burger (ignoring the veggie “burgers” that have come before it) finally goes on limited sale in the US later this week. For now, the US McPlant is neither vegan nor vegetarian and will come with a slice of American cheese and mayonnaise. The burger is also cooked on the same grill as meat — and egg-based products.

In other words, strict constructionist non-meat-eaters will probably give it the thumbs-down. But it does, according to Smith, taste and “mouthfeel” like meat. Only franchises in the United Kingdom and Ireland have put their own spin on the McPlant, correcting every American misstep, and consequently earning vegan accreditation from the Vegetarian Society.


A couple of years back, The Washington Post took a stab at redeeming McDonald’s reputation by publishing an article about fast food myths, which attorney Hans Bader then expounded on in a piece called, “The Myth that Eating McDonald’s Makes You Obese.”

Apparently, Americans in the upper-middle income bracket eat fast food more frequently than the economically struggling masses do. Therefore, the theory goes, even though obesity seems to be a disease of the poor, McDonald’s is not to blame. Sure, one Brazilian judge in 2010 awarded a man thousands of dollars because working at McDonald’s for 15 years had made him obese. But that was a fluke, and nobody else had better get any fancy ideas.

Also, potatoes have gotten a bum rap, because they don’t necessarily have more calories than the other foods that people would choose instead. And the so-called “fast-casual” eateries that offer more fresh food? Guess what — they do not necessarily serve up fewer calories. McDonald’s defenders are well-stocked with defenses.

In any debate, someone will speak up to remind participants and audiences that correlation is not the same as causation. In this one, various voices have consistently insisted that calories are not the only factor involved in obesity. So that should, according to one school of thought, let them off scot-free.

Does McDonald’s overstep?

Apparently, the franchise owners can do whatever they please about the interior and exterior appearance of their establishments. In Orlando, Florida, the world’s largest McDonald’s features a gourmet menu with exotic offerings found nowhere else, over 100 arcade games, and all kinds of bells and whistles. The décor includes two different, mural-scale interpretations of the same creative vision, described by the Vox writer Steven T. Wright as “Ronald McDonald’s electric-yellow hands gripping the world.” Oh, and also a large, free-standing sculpture depicting the same concept.

Originally a gospel song or spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” has been popular for decades in the musical repertoires of many religious denominations. And the “he” referenced in the lyrics is not Ronald McDonald. So at the very least, this could be seen by some viewers as sacrilegious. Others might be appalled by the artwork itself but that is, as always, a matter of personal taste.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The McPlant tastes just like any McDonald’s burger,”, 11/02/21
Source: “The Myth That Eating McDonald’s Makes You Obese,”, 06/19/19
Source: “Why McDonald’s looks sleek and boring now,”, 11/01/21
Image by Mike Burton/CC BY-ND 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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