When Big Companies Trick Kids

28 May
McDonald's logo

9-Year-Old Hannah Robertson gave McDonald’s a piece of her mind.
Image: McDonald’s

Nine-year old Hannah Robertson doesn’t think tricking kids is okay, and she’s not afraid to tell people so. Last Thursday, McDonalds Corporation held its annual shareholder meeting, and the pint-sized public speaker gave CEO Don Thompson a piece of her mind.

“Something that I don’t think is fair is when big companies try to trick kids into eating food that isn’t good for them by using toys and cartoon characters,” she said during a Q&A session. “If parents haven’t taught their kids about healthy eating then the kids probably believe that junk food is good for them because it might taste good.”

Hannah’s mother, Kia, is a member of Corporate Accountability International. She also created an interactive nutritional game called “Today I Ate a Rainbow,” is a nutritional blogger, and makes healthy cooking videos with her daughter.

“It would be nice if you stopped trying to trick kids into wanting to eat your food all the time,” Hannah said, continuing on to close with her question: “Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life?”

There were probably a few intakes of breath after Hannah’s speech finished, and I imagine Mr. Thompson was probably sweating bullets. An impressive fourth grader, to be sure. But he handled the question as well as he could have.

Hannah Robertson

Hannah and her mother Kia make healthy cooking videos.
Image: TodayIAteARainbow

Thompson first thanked Hannah for her question and said it was a pleasure to have met her earlier. Then he went on to refute her insinuation that he doesn’t care about keeping kids healthy.

“First off, we don’t sell junk food, Hannah,” he said, continuing on to talk about his own children and their cooking habits at home (fruits & veggies included!). Then he went on to say that McDonalds had made a lot of healthy changes over the years, like adding apples, side salads, and fat-free milk to Happy Meals and the $1 menu—and he says they’re hoping to “sell even more” of those healthy items in the coming years.

While those claims are all true, Hannah’s mother, Kia Robertson, is calling for “genuine change” at McDonalds. Both she and her daughter brought up the issue of childhood obesity, citing unhealthy eating habits as a major factor—habits they say are worsened by the fast food industry’s child-targeted marketing.

“CEO Thompson, don’t you think a good place to start would be to leave our children alone and let us parents decide what’s best for them?” she asked.

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