Well Being

McDonald’s Happy Meals Now Come With Free Books (And A Side Of Childhood Obesity)

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mcdonalds happy meals

Ronald McDonald has been scrutinized for his contribution to childhood obesity; now, he's taking an even more controversial tack in their bid to get families hooked on McDonalds Happy Meals: books. The fast food giant started distributing children's books with their happy meals in the UK today, launching a five-week campaign and plan to distribute 15 million books by 2015. On the bright side, this means a lot of kids are getting free books, which are far more beneficial than happy meal toys. But on the not-so-bright side, free books at McDonald's means more parents who are willing to stuff their kids with unhealthy fast food and soft drinks–ironically, in the name of doing something good for their kids.

McDonald's says says the campaign is modeled off a pilot project they ran last year, which got overwhelmingly positive response from parents. This time, they'll be passing out DK Books’s Amazing World series for five weeks, including Oceans; Earth; Stars and Planets; Arctic and Antarctic; and Rainforest.

Much of the press on their campaign has involved quotes from Jonathan Douglas, director of the UK's National Literacy Trust, trumping the benefits of such a program:

“Our research tells us that there is a very clear link between book ownership and children’s future success in life, so it is very concerning that one in three children in the UK doesn’t own a book, and half of kids don’t really enjoy reading.”

I'm all for giving free books to kids; I just feel conflicted about handing them out with a side of childhood obesity.

Photo: flicker user mooshie altgeld