Childhood Obesity: Should Junk Food be Regulated?|Business Ethics|Case Study|Case Studies

Childhood Obesity: Should Junk Food be Regulated?

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG054
Case Length : 16 Pages
Period : 1989 - 2005
Pub. Date : 2005
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : McDonald's Corporation et al
Industry : Food
Countries : USA, Europe, Australia, Asia

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The Dilemma: Government Regulation or Self-Regulation?

There were contrasting views among industry experts on whether there should be government regulation or self-regulation on junk food advertising by companies. Some industry observers believed that food companies were sufficiently careful in looking after consumer interests. 

But in the UK, the Food Commission felt that only laws could make advertising controls stick. The food industry also began to face mounting pressure from consumer groups to control erring food companies. Some consumers also filed lawsuits against major food companies.


In 2000, the US Government (Department of Agriculture) made it mandatory for food companies to adhere to strict nutritional labeling norms that would give details of the sugar and fat content of their products. Various state governments also brought in regulations against junk food promotions. In Fall 2004, Texas banned advertisements of junk food like sodas and candy bars at schools...

Business Ethics Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Ethics, Case Studies

Corporate Initiatives

McDonald's Corporation

McDonald's was the world's leading food service retailer serving nearly 50 million people in about 119 countries everyday. The company celebrated completion of 50 years of operation in 2005. Its menu included items like French Fries, Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, Chicken McNuggets, and Egg McMuffin.

McDonald's faced criticism for selling food that is high in fat and calories. As people became more aware of the downside of fast food, McDonald's began promoting the idea of an active lifestyle to adults as well as children. In 2004, it focused on promoting the Go Active!TM Adult Happy Meal throughout its restaurants in the US. The 'Happy Meal' for adults included a 'Stepometer' and a brochure that promotes walking; the brochure was written by Bob Greene, an exercise physiologist and Oprah Winfrey's personal trainer. McDonald's created a website called to educate children and parents about healthy lifestyles and physical activities. The company took on part-sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Cup (Soccer)...

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