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.