Bad Parents: Suing McDonald’s For Misleading Kids

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The siege towers have been moved to McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) headquarters. Some cities want the company to stop using toys to entice children to eat high-calorie fatty food. Others want the fast food firm to cut back on its sale of sugary sodas. One proposal is that chains like McDonald’s should pay a fat tax for every cheeseburger they sell.

The latest move against McDonald’s is a class action suit filed by a woman in California Superior Court in San Francisco. The suit has the support of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The organization describes itself an an advocate of good nutrition and food safety. It says it has a successful record of getting companies to improve the quality of their menus.

Monet Parham decided she needed to stop McDonald’s use of toys to market directly to young children. “According to Parham, the main reason her six-year-old daughter, Maya, asks to go to McDonald’s is to get toys based on Barbie, i-Carly, Shrek, or Strawberry Shortcake. The food seems almost beside the point to the kids, says Parham, because the toy monopolizes the attention of Maya and her two-year-old sister Lauryn,” CSPI says.

“I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience,” Parham said. “But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say ‘no’ to our young children so many times, and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”

The situation is one of bad parenting more than false advertising. It does not matter what sort of nutritionally poisoned food McDonald’s sells. It is certainly not an issue for the courts. Monet Parham is really saying that she has no control over a six-year old and two-year old. The power of McDonald’s advertising is so overwhelming that she cannot even lock the kids in their rooms and feed them fresh fruit and cottage cheese. She has no ability to keep their food intake below the FDA suggested limit of 2,500 calories a day. McDonald’s has forced her to drive many miles to one of its stores so that her two children can eat 5,000 calories at one sitting. Those calories come from food that has nearly no nutritional value.

A woman sued McDonald’s once because the coffee she bought there was too hot. She burned herself, and its was the fast food company’s fault.  She forgot that coffee is often served hot, particularly when the restaurant says so. Fat kids and their parents must have gone to McDonald’s with no idea what they would be offered.

Douglas A. McIntyre