McDonald's Says It's Sticking With Ronald

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 17% of children and adolescents are obese. But McDonald's won't assess the impact of its food on childhood obesity. "This is about choice, and we believe in the democratic process," said CEO Jim Skinner at the shareholder meeting of the world's largest fast feeder. To applause, he added that it's about the right to choose. Shareholders sank a proposal that McDonald's should issue a report about its role in the childhood obesity epidemic. Their argument is that customers should make their own choices.

Donald Zeigler, director of Prevention and Health Lifestyles at the American Medical Association, was there. He asked when the burger chain will stop marketing to children using Ronald McDonald. Zeigler was one of 550 healthcare professionals who had signed an open letter to McDonald's pleading that it "stop making the next generation sick." And on Tuesday, a watchdog group placed ads in newspapers across the country calling for McDonald's to stop marketing to children through the clown, toy giveaways and other tactics. Skinner said Ronald McDonald will stay central to efforts to promote products like Happy Meals.

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