McDonald's Boss Says Videogames Are Making Kids Fat

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McDonald's Boss Says Videogames Are Making Kids Fat

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Steve Easterbrook, Chief Executive Officer of McDonalds U.K., has suggested that the advent of videogames is responsible for the explosion of childhood obesity in Western society.

Easterbrook referred to the obesity epidemic as a "complex" issue, saying that both government and individuals have a role to play, along with the food industry, in ensuring that people eat a balanced diet and take proper care of themselves. He said McDonald's has taken steps recently to improve the quality of its food, noting that salt, sugar and trans-fats have all been reduced from various parts of the restaurants menu. "I don't think there is any definition of what is either a healthy or unhealthy food, but there are healthy and unhealthy diets," he said in an interview with the Times Online. "What I have looked to do is broaden out the menu and provide more options for people. If we continue to make quality and nutritional improvements, then we are taking steps to help people's diets."

But he also singled out videogames as a specific cause for the rise in fat kids. "The issue of obesity is complex and is absolutely one our society is facing, there's no denial about that, but if you break it down I think there's an education piece: How can we better communicate to individuals the importance of a balanced diet and taking care of themselves?" Easterbrook said. "Then there's a lifestyle element: There's fewer green spaces and kids are sat home playing computer games on the TV when in the past they'd have been burning off energy outside."

Despite the growing concern over poor health and obesity among children, McDonald's in the U.K. is continuing to experience record-setting growth. In December 2007 alone, the company served over 88 million customers, almost 10 million more than the previous year.

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well, i consider this reasonable article and all rhat, but, a McDonalds executive? of the UK complaining about obesity in the western society? ha ha ha

as where i know the most unhealthy fast food franchise is this

Well of course video games are to blame... up to a point. This is a complex issue as the article says, and it has many contributing factors. For example, would kids play video games as often if there were safer places to go out and play? The football field i used to play on as a kid is often covered in broken bottles and glasses now, so where do the kids play? The street is not really much of an option unless you want to play dodge the traffic and its not good to lose at that game. Parents are a lot more wary of letting their children out unsupervised now as well, due to various dangers.

However, my main issue with this statement is that the chief executive of a "restaurant" that invented a salad with more calories than a big mac is blaming videogames. You sure its nothing to do with restaurants like yours? Slightly hypocritical me thinks.

Wow, coming from the restaurant that has been successfully sued for making people fat? Wow. Most people think it was just frivolous lawsuits, but it was successfully shown that McDonald's marketed their food as something that you can eat all the time, even though it would KILL YOU if you did, and also that they didn't provide sufficient nutritional information to patrons.

Compare that to videogames, which are obviously the first ever such entertainment device that kept people from being active! The same thing has been said about TV for who knows how long. Do you think it goes back as far as, say, board games? People just spend all day playing Monopoly and never go outside!

"I don't think there is any definition of what is either a healthy or unhealthy food, but there are healthy and unhealthy diets,"

Well, think again ~~

Obviously, video games are not making kids fat (except some poor blokes who need to exercise constantly because of some genetical problem, but I'm guessing those are few). The average gamer isn't a fat kid, but a thin kid with no muscle mass. The kids who get fat are the kind that constantly eat chips, drink energy drinks etc while playing.

In other news, NAMBLA president declares Man-Boy love perfectly reasonable.

He picked videogames as an easy hobby horse to shift blame, I mean, I realize there's free speech and all, but that doesn't mean we have to believe every lie that comes down the wires. Some stories I would hope would simply drop off the face of the earth, sight unseen.

It's not video games fault kids choose to be lazy good-for-nothing woffing down Big Macs like they have 4 stomachs...man I can't believe that used to be me! lol

lol its a fair point from the wrong source. It'll be completely ignored cos of McExecutive trying to move attention away from them and towards video games. Havin said that, i've been playing computer games since the c64 days... i must've been what, 6,7 maybe, i've wolfed down my share of bigmacs, and more recently the xl bacon double cheese burgers of burger king. Not an advert, but when salad is replaced with an extra burger, and some bacon, surely nothing but victory. I'm only 13 stone though and 6ft 2... could stand to gain some muscles, but wouldn't say i'm far or scrawny... suppose it just depends on what you do with non video game time...

"and kids are sat home playing computer games on the TV"

Don't forget they're always exposing themselves to harmful microwave radiation by microwaving food in the toaster.

"I don't think there is any definition of what is either a healthy or unhealthy food, but there are healthy and unhealthy diets."

So a diet solely consisting of McDonalds food is unhealthy, but McDonalds food itself isn't unhealthy. Wow.

Red Shadow has a good point with doing stuff outside not being much of an option. Nowadays, I go walking or jogging 3-4 times a week, but when I was younger I was more cautious about being outside by myself.

I guess they can't remember back in 2005 when McDonald's and Nintendo had in game tie ins.
Ackhem!:

Outside the home, when a user brings a Nintendo DS unit and a Wi-Fi-enabled game into a Wayport-enabled McDonald's restaurant locations, the user simply launches the game in Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode. No setup is required.
http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:tYuWP91eYbgJ:www.gamersgame.com/cgi-bin/ggblog.pl%3Fggblog%3D1114051+nintendo+64+mcdonalds&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=10&gl=us&client=firefox-a

SO aside from pushing Mario Cart over kids climbing through pee tinged ball rooms, the 650 Calorie Happy Meal couldn't have anything to do with our porcine little ones.

I wouldn't take a comment like this seriously, but the fact that it's coming from McDonald's is so laughably and painfully obvious that it's a silly attempt to shift blame elsewhere.

Usually, I have a hard time nailing if all the corperate executives are cunning and sly, or are a bunch of chimps. Currently the scale tips towards chimps.

I guess they just try to depress gamers as a sales trick to make them go buy food from the nearest McDonalds to comfort themselves by the fact they are fat because of playing TV(/computer ehm?) games. I guess it's a perfectly well planned sales trick since you got a McDonalds around each corner these days (in New York at least). Anyway it's not the games that make you fat, but the fact that some hardly move, you can be perfectly healthy as long you walk to places each day, burn up some of those calories kinda..

Hahaha... how ironic. Or is it stupidity? I sometimes get those two mixed up.

Unbelievable.

Mud slinging from the swampiest place in commercialism?

Astounding.

Really..I thought it was companies with a divested interest in feeding kids junk foods...sure I would stipulate that gaming is not "pure" but its like habanero calling a pepporcini a pepper... sure bot are peppers but one can incapacitate!

Hypocrite.

In an unrelated story, NAMBLA accuses a man of being a pedophile.

Thats Rich
People who are CEOs of Glass House Franchises shouldnt throw stones (or in this case hurl sh*t)

When will people take responsibility for their own health and actions, and those of their kids. stop looking to the government or corporations for advice/scapegoats/lawsuits.

Well, everyone else stole my jokes. Darn.

Hahahahaha, hahhahaha, ahahahaha hahahah, oh god it hurts my kidneys.

Way to pass the blame McDonalds.

while they may raise a somewhat vbalid point I dare to say that they were a much bigger factor in the Obesity problem then videogames. However, it has been proben that games these days don't move around as much as their grandparents do. And no, I dont mean their grandparents when they were children, I mean their grandparents NOW. The eldery move around more then the kinds, and that's just sad.
Also a point of irony, in a lot of (poor) neighboorhoods, a macdonalds playground is the only (clean & safe) playground nearby.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.Oops, I think a little pee came out.

But seriously, videogames may be partly to blame for children's more sedentary lifestyle but they aren't pumping our bodies full of cholestorol and trans-fats.

Also, it's a tad hypocritical to point the finger at an industry that they are trying to break their advertising into (Guitar Hero III and a Big Mac anyone?).

This man should be ridiculed and then pitied for his stupid claims. If he keeps it up perhaps Sony might head-hunt him for their PS3 advertising campaign.

I can't believe the comments. Unfortunately, this is true; at least in part.

When there is a huge trend like obesity, one simply must look at what has changed.

I realize most of you are not my age (forty-six) so let me elaborate.

When I was a kid, we had McDonalds. I grew up in North Texas, and most of the food my mom made was fried with gravy. Thursday was chicken-fried steak day at school; Friday was fish--also fried. There was no "low fat" anything. These things did not exist. You put a cup of sugar into Kool-aid to sweeten it. We got diet soda finally in high school. It was called "Tab" and I started drinking it, not because of calorie concerns, but because I discovered that if I spilled it, everything didn't get sticky.

However, despite all of these extremely poor diet choices FORCED on us by our ignorance, I don't remember any "fat kids." Really. I'm sure there were some, but I honestly don't remember any kid being so overweight as to be called "fat." Overweight, certainly, but "fat" or "obese", no.

So why, despite all our newfound knowledge and expertise in diet, is there this explosion in obesity? The answer lies in what has changed.

What has changed is the incredible amount of screen time kids get today. When I was a kid, there wasn't 24 hour programming for kids. There was Saturday morning. Once a year, we got Charlie Brown Xmas and Rudolph. Once a year "The Wizard of Oz" came on. Woe to you if you missed them because it was 12 months before you'd get another chance. Now kids have probably 10 channels offering programming 24 hours a day. Now throw in video games and computers, and you've got a pretty hefty amount of butt-sitting going on.

A second factor is general laziness and parent paranoia or inability to say no. We walked or rode our bikes if we wanted to go to a friend's house. Now, kids are either too lazy (OMG--it's like a mile!) and parents give in to driving Chad four blocks, or the parents are too paranoid their kids are going to be snatched by a stranger to allow them to walk the four blocks.

People will always look for solutions that call for other people to change. So they point the finger at food rather than the real culprit, screen time, which would require actual effort to control. You can laugh at the McDonalds guy all you want, but remember as you're doing so you're sitting on butt in front of a screen.

Oh, BTW, if you ARE an "active kid" in a myriad of activities, my bet is that suddenly there's no time for Mom to cook a real meal, so you're pulling through the Micky D's drive through at least once a week. When I was a kid, McDonalds was a treat, not a regular meal. But I guess that's their fault too, right?

Personally, I blame the "Happy Meal." It operates on the same principle the tobacco industry does: get'em while they're young. Interestingly, all of my gamer friends are thin as rails so I question if gaming is the real problem.

But to directly address LisaB1138, screen time isn't the only thing to have changed in the last generation. Eating habits have shifted so that food is designed to be more convenient, often at the cost of nutritional value. This added convenience has also replaced the traditional 3 meals a day with day long grazing. And if kids are fatter, the baby boomers are leading the way. Your post seems to suggest that this is entirely a childhood issue that they're parents (coming from a more active era) don't suffer from. In fact the sedentary nature of the modern workplace, especially in combination with the aforementioned shifts in eating habits, means that adults today are in no position to complain about the kids' expanding waist lines.

As far as screen time goes, I think studies should more closely analyze the difference between watching TV and simply having the TV on. When I was growing up (back when children's entertainment was starting to hit it's stride as it's own industry) the TV was on but mostly as background noise. Both growing up and today seeing other peoples children I rarely see a child simply zoning out in front of a TV. When I have seen it, the child also looks so bored that you could simply roll a ball in front of them and watch as they leap at the opportunity to do something else.

As for gaming, every problem I've ever seen goes right back to that convenience issue I mentioned. Studies have shown that the difference between overweight and disgustingly fat is the simple difference of whether the potato chips are in easy reach or across the room. The amount of time doing nothing and the amount of chips eaten doesn't change, but you actually have to stand up to get them. This is anecdotally true for every gamer I've met. The fatter ones keep an entire buffet within arms reach so they never have to move. The thinner ones keep the food in that most surprising place, the kitchen. The only thing that changed is whether they have to actually get up to get the food. So really the problem comes down to how convenient food is (remember the days when you had to track your food for 4 days and then kill it yourself?), at which point McDonald's really is at fault for much of this. And snack foods, but I don't see them pointing fingers at other industries.

I don't think anyone's blaming McDonald's exclusively for the shocking rise of fatass kids in our culture. I certainly don't, and while I'm not quite the doddering oldster that LisaB is, I also remember a childhood in which Saturday mornings were sacred because they were the only real tv time I'd get all week, and computers were... well, they weren't. I walked to school, rode my bike all around the neighbourhood and beyond (as long as I stayed on our side of the main street - one of the benefits of a small town upbringing) and ate out rarely.

The problem here isn't that Easterbrook's comments aren't accurate (they are), but that he starts with promising words about complexity and then immediately points his finger at videogames. You can almost hear the triumphant "OHO!" in his voice. His interest in discussing the truth about childhood obesity begins and ends with his desire to deflect the blame to anything but his greaseball burger joint, and he deserves to be called on it.

Malygris:
The problem here isn't that Easterbrook's comments aren't accurate (they are), but that he starts with promising words about complexity and then immediately points his finger at videogames. You can almost hear the triumphant "OHO!" in his voice. His interest in discussing the truth about childhood obesity begins and ends with his desire to deflect the blame to anything but his greaseball burger joint, and he deserves to be called on it.

So despite the fact that it's consumers' lifestyle choices making them fact, he's supposed to sit back and accept the blame and have his company treated like a villain? As if they're selling meth over the counter?

I agree that video games are an easy target, but to say the man has no right to call a spade a spade seems a bit much also. The truth is, I'm tired of groups pointing fingers at vending machines in schools. I'm tired of people acting like dupes crying "he made me" while they fill their baskets with chips and TiVo and WoW their butts to immensity.

Why can't someone admit that it's their own damn fault their kids are fat? That despite the incredible amount of marketing McDonalds does, they decided it was easier to give in to their kids whining twice a week and buy them that Happy Meal?

Last time I checked, the parent still controlled what food is purchased. To sit around and blame the quality of McDonalds food after you bought it again and again and again makes one either a hypocrite or an idiot.

I play games up to 60 hours a week, and I actually have muscles and I don't even exercise that much... but guess what: I rarely eat McDonald's and I don't drink ANY fizzy drinks. Hmm. Just overthrew the whole of their argument V_V.

Not really. Weight gain is as individual as hair growth. Some people gain weight much easier than others. My kids play lots of games, but they aren't fat either. *shrugs*

There's always a witch hunt to find someone to blame when something goes wrong. People looking for the quick fix that alleviates themselves of both responsibility and action.

strange how he doesn't blame reading books for contributing to obeseity, maybe this is an early sign of him being a moronic scaremongerer

The last 40 years people

*Ate more
*Moved less

There.

Duck Sandwich:
So a diet solely consisting of McDonalds food is unhealthy, but McDonalds food itself isn't unhealthy. Wow.

Well they do sell those nifty fruit and yogurt parfaits! :D

Ahem. It's a bit wrong-headed to point a finger at any particular aspect of the obesity equation, and go "Them! Those guys are SO MUCH WORSE than us! Lay off!" because it... doesn't accomplish much. Yes, kids really ought to go outside more and get more fruits and vegetables. If anyone doesn't know this at this point? They're incredibly ignorant. Parents need to step up and raise their kids right... but that's not news either, is it? Perhaps if the world had more smart parents, we'd have kids that were better off.

(Though all this AAAH FAT KIDS IT'S TERRIBLE OHNOES panic always sticks in my teeth a bit, every time it comes around. We should all be healthy and run marathons and not eat nothing but cheeseburgers, and it's good not to drop dead of a heart attack... but there are worse things in life than being a little pudgy.)

But i don't favor most of the vegetables, because they are bitter or just don't have much taste to it, at all. It may be healthier(spelling?), but i think the saying 'bitter medicine helps better'(if not said like that) is more adequate for vegetables.

And about some mcdonald bigwig, i don't think he knows why games appeal to our audience, i guess. Still stupid to shift on games though. I just laughed the first time i read this.

Yeah, another person blaming video games instead of placing the blame on whom it should be on...PARENTS! It doesn't even help to write about it here, because the people that need to listen aren't part of this community. Kick your fat ass kids outside and start meeting people. Play a sport, instrument, become part of a club (not a gaming club) ANYTHING to meet people. Fast food and sitting on your ass is bad for anyone! Either by itself isn't really that good for you either! For the love of god I wish I could take a 4x4 and jam it right up every morons ass...sideways. I'm not sure if that would help them understand, but it may jostle their brains a bit.

hickwarrior:
But i don't favor most of the vegetables, because they are bitter or just don't have much taste to it, at all. It may be healthier(spelling?), but i think the saying 'bitter medicine helps better'(if not said like that) is more adequate for vegetables.

Open a cooking book on them ;) there are great ways to spice them up.

SamSloth:
strange how he doesn't blame reading books for contributing to obeseity, maybe this is an early sign of him being a moronic scaremongerer

That's a damn good point. It's easy to blame whatever's popular. But where are all the nutjobs saying "OMG HARRY POTTER MADE LITTLE TIMMY FAT?"

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