McDonald’s has launched a campaign to increase the health of children by giving away toys that encourage activity and vouchers which entitle them to sports sessions free of charge. The “Mascotathon” campaign is aimed at children to help in the fight against childhood obesity. Activity gadgets given away with each purchase of a Happy Meal will measure the number of jumps or steps the child takes in a day. Children are then invited to join in a game online in which two mascots, Mandeville and Wenlock use the energy provided by the children’s activity levels.
Following a demand for “bold and tough” action to stop childhood obesity by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, a call was made for a ban on companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s from being sponsors of sporting events, including the 2012 Olympics. As McDonald’s is the only branded food provider at the event it was seen by Professor Terence Stephenson, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ vice president as being “most unhelpful”. He said:
“One of the biggest events we’re ever going to see in the UK- all those people watching TV and going through the doors will be seeing this. People must be influenced by it, or why would Coca-Cola spend a lot of money to be at the Olympics?”
Paul Gately of Leeds Metropolitan University, professor of exercise and obesity in addition to being a member of the global advisory council for McDonald’s, says that the fast food chain may be able to make a positive connection with children, encouraging exercise and physical activity. He further adds that McDonald’s understands its customers and is able to communicate effectively with them to provide essential information about activity levels. The company hopes that the campaign will create a positive view of its role in the 2012 Olympics.