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.
Growing public concerns have spurred action by policymakers:
- In August 2010, Congress subpoenaed 48 food companies, including our company, to submit data to the Federal Trade Commission regarding marketing activities and product nutrition.
- In January 2011, the USDA released 2010 Dietary Guidelines , recommending limiting the “fast food environment” as key to healthy eating.
- In January 2011, Senator Harkin introduced the HeLP America Act of 2011 to restore the rulemaking authority of the FTC to issue restrictions on unfair advertising to kids.
- In June 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement calling for a total ban on child targeted television junk food advertising as well as interactive digital advertising.
- In July 2011, the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Food Marketing to Children proposed nutrition standards to limit marketing unhealthy foods to children.
- On December 1, 2011, San Francisco implemented an ordinance prohibiting toys with children’s meals failing basic nutritional standards. Instead of complying with the spirit of the law, our company exploited a legal loophole to include a toy for a nominal fee with kids meals instead of meeting the nutrition standards mandated by the law. Other municipalities are currently considering passing similar measures.
A leading obesity research institution, the Yale Rudd Center on Food Policy and Obesity, recently released a study on fast food marketing and nutrition. The study reports that 21 percent more preschoolers saw McDonald’s ads in 2009 than 2007. The study ranks our company’s nutritional quality among the worst, and notes that our marketing especially targets Hispanic and African American children.
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.