Section 1: Introduction and Situational Analysis
In 1940 Dick and Mac McDonald opened the first McDonald’s and served Bar B Que. The restaurant included a drive-thru and carhop services (Softschools.com, 2015). In 1948 they made the change from serving Bar B Que to serving burgers and fries (Softschools.com, 2015). In 1955 McDonalds adopted the golden arches and began opening more restaurants specializing in burgers and fries (Softschools.com, 2015).
Since this time, McDonalds has increased serving sizes and calorie counts in their foods. They have become known for super-sized soda and fries. Many feel that McDonald’s has directly had a direct impact on the obesity epidemic, some going so far as to blame McDonald’s for the prevalence of obesity now. Since we all have a choice in where to eat and in what quantities, does McDonald’s as a corporation share in the social responsibility of the obesity epidemic?
Section 2: Stakeholder Analysis
There are many stakeholders in this issue. There are the medical costs that society faces, some of which are shouldered by the tax payers; these costs are around $190 billion per year, making up approximately 21% of all medical costs (Phitamerica.org, 2015). There are also the McDonalds customers who are affected. They are either affected by having a place to go with foods that are unhealthy, or they are will be affected by not having the choice in what they want to eat. Of course, McDonalds as a corporation is affected. They either are considered the bad guy because they offer unhealthy food choices, or they have to completely overhaul their business model and change their customer base in order to offer healthier options. This in turn affects McDonald’s employees.
Section 3: Analysis Based on Ethical Theories
First of all, McDonald’s has no legal obligation to make a change in their menu (Schrempf, 2012). As Schrempf (2012) says, fast food corporations are not the cause of obesity, they are connected to obesity. Although they do not have a legal obligation to make changes to their menu, that does not absolve them from an ethical obligation. They have begun adding in some healthier options, and offer a “Favorites Under 400” category (Mcdonalds.com, 2015). They also offer fruit in kids meals versus just french fries. Although there are healthier options available, they still carry their traditional fare. For instance, the Big Mac contains 549 calories (Calorieking.com, 2015).
While McDonald’s may have to decide where its ethical responsibilities lie, the responsibility of what is ate lies with the consumer. The consumer is the one who makes the decision on where and what to eat, as well as in what quantities. If the consumer wants high calorie foods, shouldn’t there be a place to purchase them? It is, after all, the consumer’s body.
Section 4: Conclusion and Recommendations
The obesity epidemic is a costly and has a lot of different causes. McDonald’s has been incorporating healthier options into their menu in response to the public’s opinions about their effects on obesity. While it is up to the consumer what to eat, if the food was not available then it would not be eaten.
I would recommend the continued change to McDonald’s menu. They could seek ways to reduce calories in old favorites, such as the Big Mac. It would also be beneficial to offer more fruit and vegetable options as a side other than fries. This would allow people to get their burger fix, while still keeping the entire meal to an acceptable calorie count.
Section 5: References
Calorieking.com,. (2015). Calories in McDonald's | Nutrition, Carbohydrate and Calorie Counter. Retrieved 18 July 2015, from http://www.calorieking.com/foods/calories-in- mcdonalds_b-YmlkPTYyNQ.html
Mcdonalds.com,. (2015). Favorites Under 400 :: McDonalds.com. Retrieved 18 July 2015, from http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/meal_bundles/favoritesunder400.html
Phitamerica.org,. (2015). 10 Flabbergasting Costs of America's Obesity Epidemic - Motley Fool. Retrieved 18 July 2015, from http://www.phitamerica.org/News_Archive/10_Flaggergasting_Costs.htm
Schrempf, J. (2012). A Social Connection Approach to Corporate Responsibility: The Case of the Fast-Food Industry and Obesity. Business & Society, 53(2), 300-332. doi:10.1177/0007650312449577
Softschools.com,. (2015). History of McDonalds Timeline. Retrieved 18 July 2015, from http://www.softschools.com/timelines/history_of_mcdonalds_timeline/272/