Sep. 18, 2012 Jeff Niederdeppe is a professor of communication in Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences whose research explores the effects of mass media and health news coverage on health behavior and social policy. He welcomes the move, effective this week, by McDonald's Corp to post calorie information on menus at its 14,000 U.S. location, but calls on the fast food giant to lead the way toward changes that will have broader health benefits.
Niederdeppe says: "The decision by McDonald's to post the number of calories on their menu boards is a welcome first step toward taking accountability for the role of their products in shaping the health of Americans. The decision shows leadership and is likely to promote similar changes from other large fast-food chains.
"This important move will not, however, magically solve the obesity epidemic, nor does it change the fact that fast food companies remain a major part of the problem. Calorie-only labels leave out important information about the health and safety of fast food, including the large amount of sodium found in many of McDonald's menu items. McDonald's and other fast food companies continue to aggressively market their products to children -- by including toys in children's meals, and by advertising during programs that are watched by a huge number of young people.
"If McDonald's is serious about its efforts to reduce obesity being the right thing to do, they'll make other changes to the way that they do business. Time will tell."
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