McDonald’s, Little Histories

McDonald’s USA and the Walt Disney Co used to have a business relationship, then it ended in 2006. Also in 2006, the Institute of Medicine reported that childhood obesity was influenced, and not for the better, by junk food marketing. Reuters reported,

McDonald’s Corp paid $100 million in royalties and conducted 11 promotions a year for Disney movies and television shows and opened restaurants inside its theme parks, the Times reported… Disney introduced voluntary guidelines in 2006 that prohibited licensing of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters for foods that fail to meet minimum nutrition requirements.

One question — aren’t voluntary guidelines and prohibition mutually incompatible? At any rate, they broke up, and then early in 2018, the announcement was made that the two would be getting back together again. The duration and financial terms of the contract were not discussed with the press at the time. According to Reuters,

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said the new pact does not include any agreement on restaurants in parks but added: “We will continue to explore ways to bring this alliance to life.”

What a poetic way to express the intention of placing more calorie emporiums in theme parks!

More McDonald’s, more problems

McDonald’s is famous for being a gigantic behemoth, and also for catering to the desires of children. Even the rival quick-service restaurants that had climbed on the kid-friendly bandwagon were baffled by parents’ insistence on taking their kids to Mickey D’s. At the same time, the Associated Press said in early 2018, “The Happy Meal has long been a target of health advocates and parents who link it to childhood obesity.” The company has shown itself willing to tweak and tinker with the Happy Meal, but the parents and health professionals who hate it are unlikely to ever be reconciled.

Yesterday’s post mentioned that a hospital in Lucknow, India, had found a definite connection between quick-service restaurant offerings, and kidney stones. Dr. S.N. Shankhwar explained that fast food contains masses of sodium, which affects calcium metabolism, which causes hypercalciuria and stones:

Aerated drinks also decrease the ph level of urine, which does not allow complete dissolution of waste products generated in body, leading to crystal formation and strengthening of previously existing crystals… Kidney stones are formed when substances in urine become highly concentrated. Stones usually begin with a small crystal that solidifies with settlement of newer layers.

We also mentioned the ubiquitous presence of the corporation all over the world. McDonald’s at the time decreed that in international (non-US) outlets, “at least half of the Happy Meal options available must meet its new nutritional guidelines.” Sugar-sweetened beverages with fizz were removed from the Happy Meal menu, but could be ordered by the parent on behalf of the child if need be. The non-listing policy had reduced the frequency with which they were ordered, which is to the corporation’s credit. AP reports,

Since it removed soda from the Happy Meal menu four years ago, orders for it with Happy Meals have fallen 14 percent, the company said.

That cliffhanger will be expounded on in the next installment.

(To be continued…)

Source: “Disney toys return to McDonald’s Happy Meals,”, 02/27/18
Source: “McDonald’s Happy Meal goes on a diet, banishing cheeseburgers, shrinking fry order and adding water to drink,”, 02/15/18
Source: “Fast food linked to kidney stones,”, 04/26/15
Image by Jim, the Photographer/CC BY 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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