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Negative Effect Of McDonalds On American Cultural Perceptions By Encouraging The Obesity Epidemic

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Ronald McDonald, a cheerful, cultural icon with such a sunny image which can only be likened to that of a corporate mascot, puts smiles on children’s faces anytime, brings happiness everywhere he goes, and has even looked out for the safety of children. However, the image Ronald paints of himself is obviously like that of a strange fever dream and is not even remotely based in realty. He has not given those bright, happy smiles to children, instead he has given them the gift of childhood obesity and has created an environment that actively encourages unhealthy eating.

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McDonalds is of the largest leaders of fast-food marketing, and even though they rarely use their Ronald McDonald mascot in modern commercials; his iconic message of happiness and cheeseburgers has made its mark on pop culture. To understand this, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 71. 6% of adults 20 or over are overweight or obese in the United States from 2015-2016. Nutritionists, Medical Doctors (MD), holders of Master of Public Health (MPHs) and medical associations decry the lack of nutritional value in many fast-food items, especially McDonalds items. The fast-food industry contributes to the negative image of a stereotypical “fat”, ‘lazy” and “uneducated’ American, but McDonald’s leads other companies in ways that encourage the bad stereotypes. McDonalds is increasingly affecting negative American cultural perceptions by encouraging the obesity epidemic, allowing unfettered excess to unhealthy mass-produced food, by using clever marketing strategies, which market mainly towards children, and through brand resiliency. McDonalds is contributing massively to negative American cultural perceptions by supplying to the worldwide obesity epidemic. Mcdonald’s targeting poorer areas play a key role in contributing to these perceptions.

Barbara Hanratty, Department of Health and Sciences at Hull York Medical School in York, U. K, states ”Diet and exercise are the main factors in the development of obesity”(qtd, Hanratty) also that “Poorer areas are more likely to offer unhealthy food options/ These places concurrently offer a higher density of fast-food outlets”. Therefore, Fast-food chains, specifically McDonald’s, are the main antagonistic factors against a healthy and nutritional diet. McDonald’s does not help this by offering to poor areas, which typically lack education on nutrition. McDonald’s targeting poorer areas also adds more association between the “fat” and “uneducated” negative stereotypes of a typical American. McDonald’s is increasingly targeting these areas as well. Mcdonald’s preys on these areas due likely to their lack of knowledge on nutrition, and portion sizes. The fast-food behemoth has massively increased its available portion sizes since its creation in the mid-1950’s, much like the U. S itself.

Lisa R, Young, a member of the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University, New York city reported “In the mid-1950s, McDonald’s offered only 1 size of french fries; that size is now considered “Small” and is one third the weight of the largest size available in 2001”. While these portions may not be increasing, the sizes are still larger than they have originally been, and a large size box of french fries is 510 calories, which is ¼ of the daily recommended caloric intake for an adult man. This is omitting the fact that French fries are often eaten with a hamburger as equally as high in calories as well. McDonald’s typical meals themselves are innutritious and promote body-fat in consumers. Charles H Halsted, an expert at the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of California affirmed the non-nutritional value of these meals “Nutrition composition data from McDonald’s corporation, a leading purveyor of fast foods, show that a typical meal may include a ‘Big Mac’ hamburger with 540 kCal (with 9 g sugar) a small portion of French fries with 250 kcal and a 32 oz cup of Coca Cola with 310 kCal (all from 86 g sugar as HCFS)”, as stated, these meals are high in added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup (HCFS). Since HCFS promotes body fat in mice. Knowing this, HCFS likely can also contribute to the preexisting co-morbidity of type 2 diabetes and morbid obesity. Fast-food chains continue to increase sizes, target downtrodden areas, as well as offer unhealthy meals, which add to the negative American cultural perceptions, since these fast-food giants often excel at bringing their brand into popular culture through effective marketing.

Mcdonald’s negatively affects the U. S’s image by using it’s effective marketing to target children and families with its unhealthy food. “Low-income, preschool children preferred the tastes of food they thought were from Mcdonald’s, demonstrating that brand identity can influence young children’s taste perceptions/The food and beverage industries spent more than 10 billion per year to market to children in the United States”. Robinson holds an MPH and is published by the American Medical Association. The marketing executives at McDonald’s haven’t remained stagnant in spending on marketing children; increasingly they have spent more per year than ever before, in 1999, the food industry spent 7. 3 billion on marketing. As spending on marketing increases, so does brand awareness, and thus logos and mascots become ingrained in the public’s mind. McDonald’s golden arches, and Ronald McDonald are often subjects of mockery when they are paired with U. S culture. McDonald’s place in American culture is because out of every brand, they spend the most, more than even Coco-Cola. The marketing when combined with obesity-related deaths creates a bleak image that the marketing cannot get rid of.

There exists a natural discrepancy between the need to maximize profits and the desire to promoting health. Therefore, Mcdonald’s still uses unhealthy ingredients since it insures maximum profit. The recent trend of 100% beef still doesn’t undue all the unhealthy frying, and preservatives in their other major ingredients.

18 May 2020

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