Fast-food giant McDonald’s USA is on a mission to help nurture a healthier America, with Dr. Cindy Goody, director of nutrition, carrying a super-sized load of responsibility.
Goody and a crew of McDonald’s representatives brought their message to The New Tri-State Defender recently after visiting with 50-plus students ages five to nine at an area Boys and Girls Club. The push there was telling the kids how they could eat from the MyPlate recommended food groups “wherever they are as well as at McDonald’s”
They also talked to a similar number of 10- to 14-year-old students. The level of engagement overall was impressive said Goody, weaving in the fact that promoting “movement” is part of McDonald’s education awareness outreach.
“It’s not about weight loss. It’s about self-esteem and feeling good about one’s self,” said Goody.
McDonald’s is divided into regions and the great southern states are a model, said Goody, in talking about health and well being among children specifically. Three years ago, McDonald’s USA – 14,000 restaurants, 27 million people each day served – made a commitment to improve nutrition choices offered at its restaurants.
“One of the keys and pillars of that strategy was championing children’s well being in what we serve, what we offer to children, what we market to children.”
The push includes a new mascot, Happy, whose job is to be a brand ambassador for health eating and physical activity. And coming to a restaurant near you (July 4th nationally) is a low-fat Strawberry Go-Gurt made by General Mills exclusively for McDonald’s.
McDonald’s, said Goody. has committed to advertising meals to children under the age of 12 “that fulfill certain nutrition criteria that have been outlined by the U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, as well as the Institute of Medicine. And there are other advertising guidelines.”
Also, there is a commitment to offer produce or low-fat dairy automatically in every Happy Meal.
At the end of the day, however, McDonald’s is a business, a big business. And while some might have difficulty taking the company’s business interests in stride with the declared push on health and well-being, Goody said social responsibility relative to nutrition is good for business.
“It is good for business, absolutely,” she said. “As a registered dietician, I am proud to say that when I joined the company six years ago there were two registered dieticians globally for the business. The corporation believes in this and now we have evolved to have seven registered dietician nutritionists. We are committed to nutrition at the U.S. level and at the global level.”
(For a more complete account of the TSD’s conversation with Dr. Goody, visit TSDMemphis.com on Friday for the Q&A.)