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Hey, McDonald’s: Indian kids would like those books too!

by Anant Rangaswami  Jan 15, 2013 10:47 IST

#Coca-Cola   #ConnectTheDots   #McDonald's   #obesity  

If there are two categories that have singularly been attacked for their contribution to obesity in the western world and unhealthy eating habits, they’re carbonated soft drinks and fast food.

The biggest in these categories, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, have been at the receiving end of torrid criticism on this count. Just google ‘Coke and obesity’ and ‘McDonald’s and obesity and you’ll get the story. (Their competitors, Pepsi and KFC, will work just as well).

So it’s a pleasant surprise when, in the same week, we see initiatives from both Coke and McDonald’s to demonstrate that they are seized of the issue and will go some distance to address concerns.

A screengrab from youtube.

Coke has released a two-minute TVC, called “Coming Together”, which encourages consumers to be aware that all calories count in managing one’s weight. Most importantly, the TVC underlines that Coke and Coke products too contain calories which should be counted – and goes on to inform consumers that the company has more than 180 low calorie and zero calorie products in its stable. You can see the commercial below.

Moving from Coke to McDonalds in the UK, here’s a quiz question: What’s a Happy Meal? Your answer: a burger, fries, Coke and a toy. Right? Wrong!

Now it’s a burger, flavoured milk, apple slices – and – hold your breath – books! Watch this clip from MSNBC news which gives you the details.

The book replacing toys is no small effort. “Instead of the usual cheap plastic toy, for the next five weeks McDonald’s is offering children in the UK books with their Happy Meals. That probably means there are a lot of disappointed British children, but for the faction of nerdy little Britons who love books as much as we do, it’s a banner day under the golden arches. During the promotion, McDonald’s intends to give out one book with every Happy Meal they sell. If that’s true, it will inadvertently make them the largest children’s book distributor in the United Kingdom,” says Geekosystem.

Back in India, there is no communication from Coke on calories, and toys and no sign of apple slices, flavoured milk and books with the Happy Meals.

Do these companies have to wait for obesity to become an epidemic in India before they replicate their efforts in the western world? “Obesity is a problem of the affluent. It was a health issue in rich countries. Now, it is becoming a concern in India, mainly due to change in lifestyle and liberalisation of food imports and junk food.

The changed lifestyle has drawn people to fast foods with high calorific content and which contains trans fat, sugars, and unhealthy artificial ingredients,” says The Hindu.

Come on, Coke and McDonald’s. Change your India strategies now – don’t wait till adverse PR forces the change.