Health
12:50 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Nutrition Issues To Take Stage At McDonald's Meeting

A corporate watchdog group that recently sent letters to 22 hospitals, including Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, asking them to oust McDonald’s restaurants from their campuses, is now taking its fast food plight directly to restaurant shareholders.

On the docket for McDonald’s annual shareholder’s meeting tomorrow morning in Chicago, Ill., is a proposal that the company assess its “health footprint.”  Christine Chester, with Corporate Accountability International, says the group put forth the measure to highlight the impact of fast food on children’s health and the health system. Here’s an excerpt of Proposal No. 7 that shareholders will be voting on:

Whereas, the contribution of the fast food industry to the global epidemic of childhood obesity has become a major public issue:

  • The Centers for Disease Control reports that 1 in 3 US children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes as a result of diet. Childhood obesity greatly increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancers, asthma, arthritis, reproductive complications and premature death.
  • A study from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) concluded that fast food marketing influences children’s food preferences, diets and health.
  • In 2009, the IOM recommended that local governments take actions such as adopting zoning policies that restrict fast food near schools and limiting the density of fast food restaurants in residential communities.

It continues:

Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, within six months of the 2012 annual meeting, assessing the company’s policy responses to growing evidence of linkages between fast food and childhood obesity, diet-related diseases and other impacts on children’s health. Such report should include an assessment of the potential impacts of public concerns and evolving public policy on the company’s finances and operations.

Whether the measure will gain any traction is another story.  Last year, a similar proposal garnered six percent of shareholder’s votes, according to Chester.  And this year, the McDonald’s Board remains opposed to the proposal, stating it’s unnecessary and redundant:

We acknowledge the importance of children’s nutrition and well-being and have publicly addressed the subject in numerous reports. While these are global issues that require actions that go well beyond what our Company or any other provider of prepared foods can take on its own, we are committed to being part of the effort to address the relevant issues underlying these concerns. We offer a variety of food choices to our customers; provide nutrition information about our menu items in a variety of accessible ways so that families can make informed decisions; communicate with children in a responsible manner through age appropriate marketing and promotional activities; and encourage children and families to live balanced, active lifestyles.

Dr. Andrew Bremer of Vanderbilt Medical Center will present the proposal during tomorrow’s meeting.

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