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McDonald's UK CEO Blames Video Games for Childhood Obesity 321

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fat-and-mean dept.
BoingBoing is reporting that Steve Eaterbrook, McDonald's UK CEO, says that video games are leading the charge in obesity. He does have the decency to at least admit fatty foods are a part of the problem, but points the finger at interactive games for keeping kids indoors and not out burning off energy. "According to The Times, McDonalds UK is 'on the brink of its best year for two decades'. The firm has enjoyed six per cent like-for-like sales growth in the last year. More than 88 million visits were made to McDonald's restaurants last month, up 10 million on the previous year." Don't forget, we have known for ages that video games make us fat and mean.
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McDonald's UK CEO Blames Video Games for Childhood Obesity

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:52PM (#22002468) Journal
    We have a problem with obesity--increasingly with children.

    Disappointment Level One: Someone, somewhere decided that it is one single factor contributing to this, not a combination. Blame is absolute and illogically must be placed on one thing.

    Disappointment Level Two: The media reinforces Lvl 1 idea and is on a witch hunt.

    Disappointment Level Three: Each alleged witch further exacerbates by shifting blame to another witch, none of them ever admitting to being part of the problem. Once a new target is acquired, they escape the public eye.

    Disappointment Level Four: Lvls 1-3 act as a free pass to parents. There are so many witches to point at, surely nothing they have done resulted in this. Again, no responsibility is taken.

    And all the while, we're setting ourselves up for a diabetes explosion [time.com]. Although many have claimed it's been on the horizon for a long time, the numbers are starting to creep. Enjoy eating through all four layers of that cake!
    • by TeknoDragon (17295) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:02PM (#22002678) Journal
      It's almost like Easterbrook said in the original article [timesonline.co.uk]:

      "I don't know who is to blame," Mr Easterbrook says. "The issue of obesity is complex and is absolutely one our society is facing, there's no denial about that, but if you break it down I think there's an education piece: how can we better communicate to individuals the importance of a balanced diet and taking care of themselves? Then there's a lifestyle element: there's fewer green spaces and kids are sat home playing computer games on the TV when in the past they'd have been burning off energy outside.

      "The Government has a part to play, individuals have a responsibility and so does the food and drink industry. These are the three pillars that need to work together and demonstrate that they have a commitment to solving the issue. We're front and centre of the diet piece of the debate and, as a large business with a big influence, it is a responsibility that we accept as a leader in our sector."

      Government responsibility, individual responsibility, industry responsibility have to be in sync to solve the issue.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        CORN! Corn? Yes. Corn. [berkeley.edu]

        Destroy ADM and Cargill, today!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spun (1352)
          We gave the Native Americans smallpox and booze, they gave us tobacco and corn. It only looks like we came out ahead in that deal...
      • by JeepFanatic (993244) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:22PM (#22003106)
        In the case of children, you also have to include PARENTAL responsibility.
        • by poticlin (1034042) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:59PM (#22003804)
          Fully Agree with you there! Actually, I would say it is mostly Parental responsibility as children are brought to Fatty Restaurant where the food is bought by mom and dad. Video Games are bought and "supervised" by the parents. Balance Diet : Have you ever seen kids cook?
          What is Fatty restaurant's responsibility involved here? or Video game industry? It's all about education...
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by xtracto (837672)
            It is all about parental responsability. The problem is that first, it is the parents who are not educated to eat healtly, they are the first ones to take their kids to McDonalds and the like; second, because they do not like responsability, they blame whatever is to blame right now. McDonalds is just a food provider, just like any other (take the healthier choices like subway or 100% natural [100natural.com.mx]), however while they get a lot of demand of junk food, they will continue to produce it.

            The issue here is that the
        • by jeko (179919) on Friday January 11, 2008 @07:30PM (#22007496)
          I'll make you a deal.

          Tell Ronald to pull his creepy pedophile advertising from all the children's shows. Tell him to quit bribing my school board for access to the classroom for his "special presentations." Tell him to keep his Richard-Simmons fat ass away from whispering in my children's ears 24/7 "McDonald's is cool and magical and if your Mommy and Daddy will take you there Grimace has a special present for you."

          Pull his multi-billion dollar marketing machine away from my children's playground. Stop cramming preternatural amounts of fat, sugar and salt into their food so that my children's hindbrains don't scream "My God, we found the mother lode, we'll never need to eat again!" at the first whiff. Tell Ronald to quit fucking around with the peace in my home, and I'll lay off trying to shove him in jail with all the other fat, middle-aged men who wanna wear makeup and play with little kids.

          Yes, I keep my kids away from that crap, but I'm sick of Ronald spending billions of dollars worming his way into my kids' dreams telling them that Mommy and Daddy are keeping them from something special.

          Parental Responsibility?! How would you react if I followed your kid around all day telling them "I'll take you to McMagicFairyLand if your Mommy and Daddy will let me..."
      • by mmalove (919245)
        Ehhhhhh, kinda. On the one hand, companies could certainly always be more forthcoming about what they are selling to kids, the action packed in your face commercialism that surrounds ever more creative ways to sell a wad of corn syrup needs to be reigned in. But that's not the real issue, the one driving that kind of commercialism.

        The real issue is a underdeveloped sense of pro active thinking in young minds. Less and less are kids encouraged to think critically, more and more are they spoon fed. I trus
        • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday January 11, 2008 @04:38PM (#22004576) Homepage Journal
          You're right about sugar being a big cause of obesity (not fat), but McDonald's isn't really to blame. When I met my (now) wife, I had never been a big carb eater. I was always a meat & cheese kinda guy. She introduced me to pasta, sugary snacks, potato chips, and other stuff. I went from my "anorexic" 140lbs to 190lbs in less than a year. When I realized I was fat, I thought it was because I was eating too many fatty foods, so I cut my fats out entirely. I gained even more weight. Thanks to Dr. Atkins and about 12 months of diet research, I then proceeded to reduce my sugars, increase fiber and healthy fats, and I lost my weight back to 140-150lbs. Some of my meals were at McDonalds, too. At one point, I ate McD's almost every day, and continued to lose weight while getting my blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels lower.

          Americans are sickeningly fat, but it isn't video games or McDonalds -- its their love of sugar and sugar-like products (HFCS). I can't believe how many unbelievably fat people I know, and I know I'll have to pay for their early retirement because they won't stop shoving candy into their mouths. Cola soda is candy. "Healthy" Granola is candy. Most of the products on Weight Watchers are candy. Don't these fat people see that they're not only killing themselves, but they're putting the cost on me and others who decide to live healthy?

          Here's a reason why I detest single-payer healthcare: because people will have LESS reason to live a healthy lifestyle. I haven't been to the doctor in years except for my annual checkup. I haven't been sick in years, either. And yet I know my health costs go up because of the people who refuse to look into what ails them in terms of weight problems.
      • by Dirtside (91468)

        how can we better communicate to individuals the importance of a balanced diet and taking care of themselves?

        I think part of the problem is that we try to communicate the idea that "it's healthy to do XYZ", rather than giving people the basic information and letting them make their own decisions about how they want to manage their health. Telling everyone that X is bad and Y is good and you should avoid X and do Y instead just makes people resentful, because they like doing X and then feel guilty when they

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Roger W Moore (538166)
          Telling everyone that X is bad and Y is good and you should avoid X and do Y instead just makes people resentful, because they like doing X and then feel guilty when they do it.

          Actually it is a lot worse than that. Part of the problem is that the media jump all over new results and publicize them before they have been scientifically confirmed (although the huge number of conflicting reports which the medical profession apparently produces does give one pause to consider the level of scientific rigour). A
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      And thus is the apparent flow of civilization. You never see fat children in post-apocalyptic stories do you.
    • by Applekid (993327) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:21PM (#22003082)
      I read your entire post and it's well thought out and interesting.

      But, I have to admit, I sort of wanted some cake to go with it. And maybe a tall glass of whole milk. Duh, of course there should be chocolate syrup in the milk.
    • by mh1997 (1065630)

      Disappointment Level Four: Lvls 1-3 act as a free pass to parents. There are so many witches to point at, surely nothing they have done resulted in this. Again, no responsibility is taken.
      Well, as the parent of a future obese child, as long as I am not held responsible for poor parenting my child, I'm OK with passing the blame to video games.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:25PM (#22003154) Homepage
      Reminds me of a George Carlin act I was listening to. When the kids turn out good, they take all the credit. When the kids turn out bad, they put the blame on something else, like rock music, video games, fast food, or whatever the evil-du-jour is. I'm a parent, and I know how hard it is to raise kids, but I believe that how my kid turns out has a lot to do with how good I am at being a parent. I had video games, rock music, and fast food when I was a kid, but that doesn't mean I didn't turn out well.
      • I must not be one of George's typical children. I'm a Generation Xer (Y depending on who defines the range [wikipedia.org]). Everything that I've done in life I attribute to good parents who gave me opportunities. I opine that without those opportunities, I would not have had as much success as I enjoy. What's interesting is I have a brother who not quite two years younger than I, had the same exact (if not greater opportunities than I) and blames my parents for all his personal problems and misfortunes. Generation ga
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          To play devil's advocate, it's possible (and likely) that two siblings get treated differently, especially if they're not twins.
          • He's your younger brother, you played a role in his development while there's a chance you didn't have an older brother to play a role in yours. Parents do not make up the raising environment alone, and a 2nd/3rd/4th child may easily experience different raising styles because of the older siblings.
          • Parents can have completely different raising styles between children, I've see
    • by FSWKU (551325)
      Sadly enough, in this case, the cake ISN'T a lie... =(
    • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Friday January 11, 2008 @05:07PM (#22005070) Homepage Journal

      When I was six, I used to walk a mile to school - and a mile back - every day. In the summer all through my chidhood, I'd make myself a sandwich before anyone else was up, and be out in the woods until evening - or else, later on, drop down river in my boat on the outgoing tide and come back in on the next. When I was twelve, I used to cycle twenty miles up into the hills with a friend - and, at the end of the day, twenty miles back. Kids these days aren't allowed to do that sort of thing. They're driven everywhere. They get no time to be out by themselves. The sea - the roads - the woods - are all suddenly 'too dangerous' for kids.

      It isn't video games - at least, not mostly. It's over-protection. Of course, the over-protected, housebound kids then have to be entertained, so they get given video games. Diet doesn't help, this much is true. But the real problem is over-protection.

  • By that logic.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rooked_One (591287) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:54PM (#22002500) Journal
    does fast food cause violence?
    • by AbsoluteXyro (1048620) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:55PM (#22002536)
      Violent diarrhea maybe...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:05PM (#22002750)

        Violent diarrhea maybe...
        But in my experience, it doesn't stop at violent diarrhea, there are several more types caused by fast food:
        • Explosive
        • Projectile
        • Neverending
        • Reverse
        • Liquid
        • Instant
        • Presidential
        • Quad Core
        • by Shakrai (717556) *

          # Presidential

          Hey now.... turd sandwich is clearly the most qualified candidate to lead our country. You take that back right now!

          • Let's get out and vote!
            Let's make our voices heard!
            We've been given the right to choose
            Between a douche and a turd
            It's democracy in action,
            Put your freedom to the test,
            A big fat turd or a stupid douche,
            Which do you like best?
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:17PM (#22002984)
      It does when it's 1 minute past breakfast and I'm trying to get an egg McMuffin.
    • does fast food cause violence?

      Though sugar- and caffeine-laden drinks can perhaps wind a person up, most of a typical fast-food menu would probably leave you feeling lethargic and feeling a bit calmer, due to the high-fat content and other chemicals such as the enzymes in the cheese on your burger. That's what's a bit perverse about a lot of restaurant meals--not only will they make you feel fat, they'll put you in a lazy mood so you are less motivated to be active. When those effects wear off you'll feel
  • Helmet Society (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aeonite (263338) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:54PM (#22002510) Homepage
    As I said on this site [kotaku.com]:

    There's a lot to be said for this, but I think the finger should be pointed past the video games and towards an overprotective and overly litigious society.

    When I was growing up we had our Nintendos and Segas and Ataris and Intellivisions and Apple IIe computers, but we only played around with those for a few hours, and then we'd go outside and play baseball or football or street hockey, or merely ride our bikes around the neighborhood for a few more hours.

    But nowadays it seems like everyone is scared to get up out of their chair. Are you going to ride a bike? Better wear a helmet, get some reflectors, ride with a friend, attach a siren, etc. Going to play street hockey? Better wear a helmet and a bunch of pads and secure the services of a lawyer so you can sue the first person who body checks you into a parked car. Going for a walk? Better rethink that - you might get abducted by a stranger. Gym class? Recess? Are you mad? You might fall and skin a knee.

    We didn't take precautions when we played when I was growing up. And you know what? We survived. We did amazing crazy things. We played tackle football in the street. We threw rocks at each other. And no matter what we did we didn't wear helmets. And the worst that came from all of it is one of my friends got a broken arm once.

    I think we need more Nietzsche and less nurture. "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." Because that which does not make me stronger is killing me.
    • Re:Helmet Society (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moderatorrater (1095745) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:59PM (#22002624)
      According to this study [bbc.co.uk], activity levels for children stay the same no matter what they're forced to do, ie if they're not active at home they'll be active at school and vice versa. A child will be active no matter what they do for play. My little brother and his friends start to get overly energetic when they play video games for too long, and then they quit and run around for a while. It should also be mentioned that this same brother plays video games more than anyone I know, and he's also skinnier than average.
      • Forcing kids to run around just makes them eat more when they get home. School bullies are hyper-active all day but most of them are fat because of all the lunches they steal.

        Half an hour of running is only a couple of Oreos so it isn't hard for kids to make it up by snacking. If you don't want your kids to get fat then don't give them free access to a refrigerator/pantry full of instant foods. ...but as others have noted, that would take some parenting.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        I agree with you and the GP that physical activity is important, but you still cannot discount diet! With my own weight, I've found exercise alone does not cause weight loss (especially since it makes you hungry). You can burn some calories, but it's almost irrelevant if you're still replacing them 1500 KCal/s at a time! That's the number of calories in a supersized Big Mac Meal - fries + burget + soda. For most people (perhaps less so for kids) the amount of exercise you have to get to eat whatever y
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Skinny doesn't necessarily mean healthy, though.

        I'm still in college, and there are still students in college that literally go to class, get food to-go from the cafeteria, and sit and play video games until 2am. Some of them are still "good students," others definitely let their grades slide because of computer games.

        Do computer games help obesity/health? No, they don't, I hope we can ALL agree on that. Do they hinder it? I think they do hinder it a little bit. How many people spend hours upon ho

    • We live in a society that enjoys violence vicariously through our entertainments (and yes, that includes the nightly news with its stories of sex and gore), but are in many ways a cowardly society. We've scared ourselves and our kids inside our houses because our media has given us a distorted view of the dangers. You'd think there were child predators on every street corner, that every park was populated by rapists and murderers. People have no sense of proportion any more.
    • Well said. It's become such a pain for kids to go outside and do any exercises now, most figure why bother. We did some really crazy stuff as kids and, looking back, I'm surprised no one drowned. But somehow we all managed to survive. I think my childhood was a bit extreme (we were doing todays 'extreme' sports when they weren't even consider sports...) though and the normal bike riding, football/baseball/basketball playing kids should be able to play outside without being armored up.

      I've mentioned this
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Amouth (879122)
        luckly i had a metal plate installed in my skull as a child due to a birth defect (still sets off good metal detectors). i consider my self quite hard headed.. there for screw helmets for me..

        p.s. if i crack my skull open take some pictures and show them to me later - i want to see what the plate looks like..
    • Re:Helmet Society (Score:4, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:15PM (#22002926) Homepage
      We didn't take precautions when we played when I was growing up. And you know what? We survived. We did amazing crazy things. We played tackle football in the street. We threw rocks at each other. And no matter what we did we didn't wear helmets. And the worst that came from all of it is one of my friends got a broken arm once.

      I have a friend that just recently had his fourth child (they are all 5 and under) and he said to me, "I need to buy a farm. I can't allow my children to do what I was able to do -- like ride my bike all over town." I asked, "why not?" Now, I want to mention that I wasn't allowed out of sight of my house on a bike until I was probably 12 and even then I had to be within earshot and 5 minutes of my father's whistle (which had quite a range). His reply, "They can't be trusted."

      So it has nothing to do with litigious society, etc, it has to do with parents realizing what they got away with as kids (surviving, yes) and attempting to stop it for their children. What these people don't realize is that kids are still going to get hurt, get abducted, steal shit, fuck, drink and do drugs. All that's going to happen is that they are going to find ways that we didn't think of to get it done.

      Back on topic:

      While what McDonald's UK douche says is true, it's also very true that the "Fast Food Nation" (sponsored heartily by communities like the one I live in where the little guy is ignored while the big box and chain restaurants are encouraged to thrive by the Council) is also killing us. I've read several books like Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally [amazon.com] and similarly Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life [amazon.com] which mention the advantages of local eating, home cooking, and healthy lifestyles. I'm really going to attempt to get into Community Supported Agriculture [localharvest.org], get out to our local farmers' market more than 1x a month, and stop eating out nearly as much as I was.

      We've traded dangers from biking without a helmet, pads and an orange flag with blinking LEDs to eating foods with 50% of your daily need of fat, 75% of your calories and loaded with high fructose corn syrup. One might take 15 to 20 years to kill you rather than 15 to 20 seconds but we need to decide which is better.

      Happy Meals need to be replaced with Happy Medium.
    • Re:Helmet Society (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rinikusu (28164) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:15PM (#22002936)
      I've been noticing for years the trend of "wussifying" our youth. You're right, when we were kids (I'm in my mid-30s), I played in ditches, played soccer, got beat-up by the neighborhood bully, rode bikes on the trails and make "jumps", played lots of hide and go seek or kick the can, we ran home from school, ran down the street, just being kids.

      You know what ruined it for me?

      Air Conditioning. Cheap electricity, Central A/C, and summers just got too hot to bother going out in. Heating in the winter made going out in it too cold, nevermind our forebears survived quite handily. A couple years ago, I started an experiment. I quit using the A/C except for when I was expecting company. I opened up my windows, turned on a fan to circulate the air, and wouldn't you know it? I was hot, but after a couple weeks, I got used to it. Walking into an office building felt like I was walking into a meat freezer. My electricity bill halved, if not more. I was amazed. I went out for walks more. I lost 30 pounds that summer, because it was no longer "too hot" to go outside.

      SO, I don't think it's video games, for sure. Video games are just what you do when it's too hot to go outside, and it becomes a habit. Turn off your a/c, let your athlon crank your room to 120 degrees, and you'll *want* to go do something else for awhile. :)
    • You have some good points, but to be fair when I(and probably you) was a kid the "SUV" with its huge bulky mass, very poor handling/braking distance, and gigantic blind spots that drivers pretend don't exist, were incredibly rare. Not to mention that the drivers of those smaller cars were not distracted by yapping on a cell phone while driving. Hell, even as an adult and an avid(and helmet wearing) cyclist, SUVs scare the shit out of me. The sooner they are banned the sooner kids can go play out on the s
    • by techpawn (969834)
      I know I think of the crap we pulled as kids behind our parents backs (and even with our parents watching). And all I can think now is "Damn, someone's going to call social services on my ass and get me arrested and my children taken away" It's not that the toys/games are getting more advanced and more engaging... It's that that rusty piece of metal in the dirt is now seen as something that will kill you instead of the sword that slays the dragon (read: younger sibling). In our quest to "think of the childr
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      When I was a kid, we didn't have the creeps we have today roaming around preying upon children. Don't get me wrong, there were creeps back then, but they were held in check by society.

      Case in point, if creepy dude back then made unseemly remarks or advances upon a kid, 9 times out of 10, the dad would march over creepy dudes house and punch the guy in the nose until he was a bloody pulp. Police and courts weren't involved and the creepy dude was held in check.

      Today, if that happened, creepy dude would walk
    • Similarly, I remember going to school by myself since first grade (~7 years old); had to use public transportation. I dunno what changed, but I hardly know of anyone sending their kids by themselves at that age---what's with this "school bus" business? That's just silly!

      Either the society got screwed up, kids got dumber, or something is very wrong with the current generation of kids.
    • We didn't take precautions when we played when I was growing up. And you know what? We survived.

      Well, the ones that survived did, at least.

      We don't talk much about the boy who became a vegetable because he wasn't wearing a helmet and cracked his head open, or the girl who disappeared walking home from a friend's house and whose body was found in the woods a week later...
  • Hm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:57PM (#22002572) Journal
    He must not have heard of the Wii ;)
  • by volpone (551472) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:57PM (#22002576)
    The tobacco industry claimed that great sex causes lung cancer.
  • by Joe Random (777564) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:58PM (#22002598)
    So McDonald's emphasizes personal responsibility when it involves what people eat, but not when it involves their recreational activities?
  • by Sciros (986030) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:58PM (#22002612) Journal
    1) Philip Morris say video games are promoting smoking among children.

    2) KKK Grand Wizard says video games are making children racist.

    3) Exxon-Mobil says video games make children averse to renewable energy.

    4) McDonald's CEO is a peen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by eclectro (227083)
      Laugh as you might, but fat kids are contributing to global warming with all the extra methane they are releasing.
      When people finally realize this, something will finally be done about it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Plutonite (999141)
      What I find very funny, and utterly confusing, is that fear-mongering, war-waging politicians who are perfectly OK with us going to war with non-threatening nations half way around the world and killing (or indirectly causing the death of) hundreds of thousands of innocent people, are making all kinds of accusations against video games being encouraging of violence. Holy shit, ya know? I am perfectly willing to accept some sort of objective psychological study that manages to make a good case for that sort
  • by neo (4625) on Friday January 11, 2008 @02:59PM (#22002622)
    In a statement made by the United Video Game Designers of the UK, stated ...

    "Clearly our reliance on fast food, particularly McDonald's, has caused us to become unimaginative and lackluster in our new game designs. By buying initially from the value menu and then going to super sized items we have replicated this trained up-sell response in our own games. We haven't made an original game since Doom. We even tried watching Super Size Me 10 times, but that only made one designer go completely mad and make a copy of Burger Time. We can only hope that McDonald's changes the way they sell food items so that we can again create new and innovative games that people around the world will become lethargic blobs of goo playing. Thank you."
  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:00PM (#22002650) Homepage Journal
    Soda companies blamed video games a bit back, and then back peddled on their statement.

    http://kotaku.com/335546/soda-companies-blame-videogames-for-fat-kids [kotaku.com]
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:05PM (#22002758) Homepage Journal
    There are lots of things causing the problem.
    Blaming McDonald's is kind of silly. Don't raise your kids on a diet of McDonald's. It is supposed to be a treat and not a diet.
    You feed your kids the big breakfast at IHOP the same thing will happen. Again it is supposed to be a treat and not a diet.
    Letting your kids play video games for hours on end. Also not a good plan.
    Letting them sit in front of the TV is also not a good plan.
    Frankly I am amazed at the amount of passive entertainment we have available to all of us. With NetFlix, PVP, PVRs, Cable, Video Games, and the Internet there is always something worth while to watch or read or play.
    A kid today doesn't need to find something to entertain themselves with.
    Combine that with traffic today and all the fears over safety, and both parents working kids are often raised on a diet of video and fast food. It isn't bread and circuses it is Burgers and Playstations.
    I have noticed that McDonald's is offering some better choices on the menu as well.
    So don't dismiss video games just because you like them.

    BTW if you don't think the techie life style contributes to the problem take a look around your office.
    • by dvice_null (981029) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:21PM (#22003066)
      > Blaming McDonald's is kind of silly. Don't raise your kids on a diet of McDonald's. It is supposed to be a treat and not a diet.

      Actually you can blame them for marketing. It is a known fact that marketing affects people and they market a lot. Their marketing is directly connected to the amount of fast food people buy. If it wouldn't be, they wouldn't do the marketing as that wouldn't be worth of it.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        "Actually you can blame them for marketing. It is a known fact that marketing affects people and they market a lot."
        And that doesn't apply to video games?????
    • by Bryansix (761547)

      Blaming McDonald's is kind of silly. Don't raise your kids on a diet of McDonald's. It is supposed to be a treat and not a diet.

      McDonald's actually says this when questioned about it. However that is NOT how they market themselves. In fact they even market themselves as health food now. You may even believe it by how they market but their Chicken Selects Premium Breasts Strips just made the list of the 10 WORST FOODS: Foods You Should Never Eat [cspinet.org]. The point is the more McDonald's panders to the healthy foo

  • Korea and Japan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:08PM (#22002806)
    Ooops. Forgot the fact that the two most videogame obsessed countries don't have obesity problems.

    Doh!

  • by Manip (656104) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:09PM (#22002818)
    Being a larger guy myself I'd put it down to a number of factors including:
    - Eating too fast
    - Forgeting to enjoy food (fat people enjoy their food less than thin people while eating it)
    - Very concentrated sugar / fat foods (e.g. Soft Drinks, Burgers)
    - Society encourages us to stay home (Safer, Entertainment, and for Computer Geeks even work-useful activities like coding)
    - Very little "good" help available (Doctors throwing pills, diets selling useless books, but nobody wants to give good advice except perhaps Paul Mckenna and a couple of others)

    I wouldn't pin it down to Games or any other single form of entertainment. Well except perhaps World of Warcraft but that is a different kind of crack within its self. ;-)
    • by JakiChan (141719)

      Very little "good" help available (Doctors throwing pills, diets selling useless books, but nobody wants to give good advice except perhaps Paul Mckenna and a couple of others)
      Amen, brother. All the doctors and/or insurance companies want to do is point you at a surgeon to cut up your intestines. Very very few people in the medical profession want to help the obese.
    • by Reziac (43301) * on Friday January 11, 2008 @04:00PM (#22003820) Homepage Journal
      I always eat like a starving wolf (always have, ever since I was a little kid -- that's how I best enjoy my food!), and at 52 I'm still as skinny as I was in college. People are always asking me how I stay so thin. Well, this is it:

      Lack of balanced protein and/or lack of fat makes you FEEL HUNGRY, and sugars early in the day make the liver "lazy" ("gimme easy food, not food I have to work to process!") and gives you the munchies. -- My diet is based around red meat (chicken, fish, and vegetable proteins do NOT have the right balance of amino acids to control your appetite), with normal amounts of fat (no particular effort made to trim it down). I don't eat carbs before noon, unless liberally lathered with grease. (Incidentally my cholesterol is way *down* there.) This serves to keep my appetite under control over the long haul, and prevents having the munchies during the day. -- I don't limit sweets otherwise, since I hit a natural limit of how much "tastes good" fairly quick. I suspect as a side effect, I do not get "sugar highs" even if I eat a lot of sugar at once.

      Just because your stomach is empty does NOT necessarily mean you need to ingest more calories. Learn to feel when you need energy, don't just assume your stomach knows anything about it. -- My stomach does NOT control when I eat. It can growl all it likes, but if the rest of my body doesn't say it needs food TOO, the stomach will be ignored (or at best placated with a couple crackers or a piece of jerky); it has learned to produce a couple token growls, then shuts up and stops bothering me. If you don't give in every time you feel the slightest hunger, your stomach too can learn this self-control.

      Don't stuff yourself. I feel no need to "clean my plate". That's what the fridge is for -- storing leftovers. One extra bite at every meal adds up. And if you eat out a lot, remember that both fast-food joints and 5-star restaurants have doggie-bags. Take it home, get another meal out of it, instead of shoveling down food you don't really want.

      Listen to your body when it is "bored" and wants to move around, or needs to sleep. The "twitchies" you get after a marathon coding session are a major symptom of this physical boredom and sleep deprivation (the two tend to go hand in hand). -- Find something physical to DO for an hour or so every day, even if it's just walking around the block. And try to sleep at *night* (preferably by 10pm) -- that helps keep the rest of the system in sync, so your appetite is easier to control.

      Take note of the metabolic slowdown that happens around age 30. If you keep eating as much as you did when you were 20, you WILL get fat.

      If your lifestyle *becomes more sedentary* thanks to computer games or ANY "sit in one place" behaviour, you WILL get fat. I know a lot of formerly-active, formerly-thin people (mostly middle-aged guys) who got addicted to some computer game, or to the internet, or who got a desk job after being a field rep, and promptly put on weight, simply because now they sit there and snack instead of moving around, and they eat just because their body is bored. -- I can tell when a certain friend's computer is broken, because he loses weight. -- TV never had quite as much of an effect, probably because what interests most people is limited to certain hours and certain days, so sitting in front of the TV tends to be self-limiting. Conversely, you can play WoW 24 hours a day if you wish. -- I still play a lot of DOOM, and muck about online a lot, but I DON'T snack while I'm on the computer. And I do stuff besides just sit here all day.

      So... that's it. Nothing special about my lifestyle, no particular diets, no deprivation, no exercise regimen (tho I do a couple hours of physical work every day, it's nothing strenuous, mainly just a lot of walking). Do likewise, and chances are you'll return to your teenage weight, too. It worked for generations of your forefathers, who never heard of all this low-fat, low-protein "healthy eating" that's been packing weight on Americans for the past two decades.

  • Who's To Blame? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@em a . il> on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:11PM (#22002860) Journal

    While McDonald's blames video games on the obesity trend, let's not forget the millions of Americans who work in physically inactive jobs for many hours per week, come home to eat a full dinner (while skimping on more important meals, like Breakfast) and then finish it off by watching a good amount of TV. Never mind the lack of (or committment to) exercise, eating healthier (which isn't as important as exercise) or even trying to be active.

    When one sees public service announcements telling people to play at least ONE HOUR a day, then I think we know where a lot of the blame can be shifted. Ironically enough, in my mind it wouldn't be fast food...

  • Okay, I'm going home, and I will play video games nonstop for a month. Someone else about 5'10" and 200lbs needs to go to McDonalds and eat Big Macs nonstop for a month. Someone else needs to get us federal grants for obesity research so I can get paid to play video games all month, and to cover that other poor fat bastard's Big Macs. Then at the end of the month, we'll see who gained more weight.
    • How much are you willing to bet that I can find more people who play video games at least 3 hours a day than eat at mcdonald's once a day?
  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles,jones&zen,co,uk> on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:14PM (#22002902)
    1. Fructose and corn syrup

    2. Paranoid and over protective parents not letting their kids play outside

    3. Lazy parents buying ready meals and junk food

    4. Lack of room in the school timetable for PE (physical exercise)

    5. Computer games (parents should limit this)

    6. Film and TV programme tie-ins with McDonalds and sugary foods such as cereals

    7. Kids being driven to school
  • by trongey (21550) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:15PM (#22002944) Homepage
    ScuttleMonkey wins the prize for Freudian Typo of the Day:

    ...Steve Eaterbrook, McDonald's UK CEO...
  • I'll accept that video games are the sole reason we're getting fatter -- if McDonalds accepts that fast food is making us violent. It seems just as logical to me.

    Personally, I know why I'm fat (although I'm currently working on that problem [fourmilab.ch]). Soft drinks, pure and simple. I used to consume at least 1,000kcal/day of the stuff. At 3500kcal/lb, that adds up fast!

    At least I don't smoke -- but as a soda addict, I do sympathize with smokers. It's hard to give up (or even cut back on) something you really enjo
  • So eating a pair of syrup soaked muffin shaped pancakes with a wedge of sausage crammed between doesn't make you fat but consumer electronics will?
  • If only there were some sort of activity that is possibly known to combat obesity? Obviously not a diet or anything...
  • BOOKS! (Score:3, Funny)

    by emeri1md (935883) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:18PM (#22003008) Homepage
    It's the books! The books are making us fat. Damn those kids and their eight hour reading marathons! They need to go outside and get in trouble like normal kids! That'll get rid of the problem.
  • This makes some sense as those who are now teenager are the first generation that have raised totally in front of the video games, and whose parent probably were raised in from of video games. This means that they probably were likely to sit in front of a video game with the parent rather than work or play outside. The fact that some of these teenagers may be heavier may be in part due to the fact that sitting in front of the computer is much more sendentary than previous generations.

    OTOH, everyone over

  • by Daveznet (789744) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:20PM (#22003050)
    I don't know how he can say that video games leads to obesity. South Koreans probably play the most video games out of any nationality. A big portion of their economy is based on it. They have pro-gamers that practice 10+ hours a day and the last time I saw none of them were obese.
  • My friend asked me how he could lose weight. Hes over 300 pounds an hes only 21, I told him he needs to make some lifestyle changes. For one I told him to play less WoW and start being more active, of course he didn't want to give up his precious WoW over his health. Now whenever I go over to his house, hes sitting there playing WoW with a bag of potato chips.

    Its not completely video games fault but its definitely a key contributor and it doesn't help that its contributing to the problem at an early age.
  • ...long live the carbohydrates theory.

    Keys lipid hypothesis is dead... scientist are fleeing it like rats from a sinking ship. The media just hasn't caught up yet.

    The truly frightening thing is that the diet that US and Canadian governments have been recommending over that last 30 years is pretty much the same thing that we use to fatten cattle up for slaughter.
  • McDonald's UK CEO Blames Video Games for Childhood Obesity
    I have no indication that the CEO of McDonald's is an obesity scientist.
    I suppose he's thinking that since he has the title of CEO that there is some credibility to anything he says. I suppose there is for quite a lot of people.
    It's sad.

    I'm running out of tinfoil.
  • By the same logic, tobacco companies will argue that people who play video games are more likely to stay indoors, where second-hand smoke is concentrated, rather than spending their time outdoors.

    Fucktards.

  • If the calories eaten outweigh the calories burned then weight is gained. Steve Easterbrook is stating the blisteringly obvious, and in doing so completely misses the point.

    Increasing obesity levels are not as straight forward as blaming fast food or video games though, there are several other factors:

    • Sport at school: Sport is not a priority in the majority of state schools now. It isn't funded and the teachers don't seem to be as willing to dedicate the time to run afterschool sessions. I'm not blaming
  • I worked at McDonald's. So would eat a quarter pounder or two every day. I also played a lot of video games, and played with computers. But I wasn't fat. Am now, however.

    Being captain of the cross country team and also in the marching band probably helped. I think 'social networks' (to include networked video games) are more to blame than just games themselves. It is much harder to pull yourself away from interaction with other people online. It's just so much easier than doing it in real life. It'
  • So, we know, or at least should, that to decrease our weight and increase our fitness we need to change the way we eat and exercise more. The more calories we burn in exercise, the more high calorie foods we can eat. But, if we didn't want to work out, we could very easily (if you have will power when it comes to food) maintain our weight by just eating the proper amount and avoiding fast food like McDonalds. So what I am saying is, I can play video games all I want and not become obese as long as I alte
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:44PM (#22003508) Journal
    All of these things are contributing factors. But it's not just as simple as "kids eat too much junk food" or "kids don't get enough exercise", as if the solution is to simply STOP these things, like flipping a switch.

    Let's look at one. Why do kids eat too much bad food? Because:
    1. processed crap is cheaper per calorie (and gram) than healthier foods
    2. freshly made food takes more time and energy to prepare than crappy food
    3. people typically have a poor understanding of what exactly is in their food

    Why are these things true? Partly because we didn't evolve to eat what we eat, and our bodies sometimes have trouble coping; partly because our diet isn't varied enough, and there's been a fair amount of research showing that more varied diets improve health; allergies/reactions to foods are higher in populations that eat a lot of those foods; and, among other things, decades of giant agribusinesses lobbying the government for laws and subsidies that support their business model of mass-producing cheap junk, and (sometimes) trying to suppress research that shows that cheap junk is unhealthy. Take "enriched flour". This is wheat flour that has had the husk removed (the husk contains almost all the fiber and other good nutrients; the germ contains basically nothing but carbohydrates), and then had artificially-produced versions of the nutrients in the husk added back in. What the hell? How about we just eat the whole grain instead (or flour therefrom) and cut out the middleman?

    #3 really vexes me. My son has reactions to milk protein (irritability, rash around his butt), wheat (skin rash), canola (screaming hyperactivity), and artificial food coloring (more irritability and hypersensitivity to things going wrong); since my wife is still nursing him, she has to avoid those things too. And she's discovered that she reacts to milk protein (rashiness) and soy (body temperature drops by 1-2 degrees, cold sores develop on lip every couple of weeks, versus virtually never when she's off soy).

    We still like to go out to eat, but it's a chore because we have to grill our waiters about what exactly they use to prepare the food. The question "What kind of cooking oil do you use to prepare X?" is usually met with either a blank stare (why should we expect someone who works in a restaurant to be informed about what's in the food? madness!), or the answer "Vegetable oil." Uh, yeah, pretty much ALL cooking oil is vegetable oil (animal fats are solid at room temperature, and are not "oil", culinarily speaking). WHICH VEGETABLE DID IT COME FROM? It matters! We eventually started saying "What kind of vegetable oil do you use," which frequently gets the answer "Regular vegetable oil", which lead to much headdesking frustration. Now we actually cue them by saying, "What kind of vegetable oil do you use, like, canola, corn, safflower, olive oil?" and most of the time that seems to get them to provide us with an actual answer (but sometimes they still say "regular").

    Hell, one time we went to a very nice restaurant, and my wife expained that she couldn't have dairy or wheat. The waiter dutifully returned later and told us that he'd checked on the desserts and found one that wasn't made with dairy or wheat flour, "just white flour." We stared at him for a second and asked what plant white flour comes from. It was priceless watching the expression on his face as it dawned on him that white flour is also made from wheat. And this guy was a waiter at a well-known upscale restaurant in Los Angeles. And we've had this experience repeated numerous times, at restaurants all along the scale.

    Anyway, rant over, but if you don't already, do yourself a favor -- find out what the hell you're eating. Learn about food. Read ingredient labels. (Did you know that "rapeseed" is another name for "canola"? Did you know that "casein" is milk protein? Did you know that virtually all soy sauce contains wheat, which is a pain in the ass for us because we love sushi?) Avoid proc
  • Legislation mandating calorie counts and fat counts on menu's and displays should solve the problem to a great degree. I think they were trying to get this passed in NYC but was shot down by the restaurants association.

    A tad draconian / big brother but perhaps making a rule of no single order can exceed 500 calories and a certain fat percentage, if you want more, buy 2 / 3 etc. That way people will at least be aware of much they're eating.

  • Not that anyone actually reads TFA, but did anyone else think the baby and the bun looked like a baby trying to suck on a sesame-seeded hamburger-bun breast?

    We'll ignore for the moment that McDonald's basic burgers don't have seeded buns.

  • I wish people would get off their soap boxes and realize that video games aren't all bad [beryllium.ca].
  • Ok, so video games makes kids fat, but if parents didn't throw McBurgers at them infront of their TVs/computers to keep them "occupied", where would we be? "Give 'em what they want to shut them up" is the best way to avoid active parenting, lack of child care, or any other excuse not to be involved with your own kids. (And its hard - I have two young kids - and its exhausting trying to keep them occupied.)
  • McDonalds use in-game advertisements
  • by HalAtWork (926717) on Friday January 11, 2008 @03:55PM (#22003736)
    I wonder how many calories video games have? Oh right, it's the McDonald's that people while playing the video games. Personally I play a lot of video games, watch a lot of TV, and go to work. I don't go out of my way to do physical activity but I don't inhibit it either, I just do what feels natural. I eat well though. Ever since I cut out McDonald's and drinking soda, I dropped 65 lbs over like 4 months. Now I'm not overweight in the least, and even then I wasn't really fat before, but bending over made me sweat, and I didn't like that. I still eat about a bag of cookies a day (a habit which I am cutting out now, I just can't quit all my bad habits all at once you know) and it's nowhere near as aweful as McDonald's, and I don't feel like vomiting after I eat either.
  • Gym class. . ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Friday January 11, 2008 @08:45PM (#22008510)
    When I was a kid, video games were in their toddlership; the Apple ][ and the C64 were big when I was 'Stand By Me' age. --And I played a LOT of them. And I read tons of books. And watched too much TV, and was engaged in a bunch of other quiet desk-y activities which included things like dice and soldering irons. But I also liked to climb trees and ride my bike all over creation, and play the odd sports and even cross a suicidal train bridge with by friends now and again. --And in gym class, we had to run around the school yard perimeter three times every school day. That's about a mile! Every day. Running. What the heck? We were all in pretty great shape!

    Life hasn't changed that much for kids except that the TV and video game quotient has crept up, (but not by so much), and McFries along with much of our food supply now uses GM vegetable oil. (McFries used to be cooked with animal fat back in the good old days when the oils wouldn't break down under heating into toxins; but that's another story. . ).

    And yet there has been a distinct change, and I don't think it is linked to any one thing; not to video games or TV or our diets. I think it's a collective build-up of unhealthy and limiting forces, no one of which is going to tip the scales on its own. But it's there. People today are in general, less interesting. I'm sorry, you youngsters our there, but it's true. There's a curve of sorts going on. Want to test it? Do the following. . .

    Sit down with a sampling of regular burger-eating, TV-watching twenty-year-olds, (I should note that this does not apply to people who have disengaged from all the normal culprit lifestyles), and ask about their lives and their childhoods. Listen to their stories. Then do the same thing with a bunch of people in their late thirties and early forties. Move through the decades. --You'll begin to really notice the trend with people who were born in the fifties and sixties.

    I did that for a while without particularly planning to measure anything; I was just in a phase where I was meeting lots of people, and was stunned by just how much more alive people seemed who had been born in the earlier decades. --I knew this one girl who must be in her late forties by now, who when she was a kid burned down a garage in the middle of one of her adventures. She and her gang also used to hike through the city ravine system which back then could take you from one end of the city to the other without needing to abandon the tree line, and they knew when all their various abusive parents would be away so that they could raid their separate kitchens en masse for lunch without being spotted. They'd take in fifty-cent films down at the Kingsway with the gang sitting along the entire front row passing roaches made from wild marijuana they'd picked in the forest and rolled into joints the size of 12 gage cigars. --One time they went to their favorite baseball field only to find that the Toronto chapter of the Hell's Angels had settled in for the day. --So they challenged them to a baseball game, and everybody ended up having one of the most exciting days of their lives.

    Shit. I was born in the early Seventies, and my stories weren't nearly so bloody or amazing. --I did a few cool things; I burned down a fence one time trying to reverse-engineer fireworks, and I stole a shipment of wonderbread from a grocery store with my friends one night on a whim.

    But I know a guy who was born in the fifties who has stories like Indiana Jones. And a thirteen year-old today whose big adventure was that she lost her cell phone and had to go looking for it in the woods.

    --Now, I know this is not the norm. There are placid people in all times. --And adventurous ones, too. But it's the style and depth of adventure which I notice seems to have diminished over the decades. George Lucas used to be into street racing and hot rods; American Graffiti was drawn from his own teen years. Most of the young wannabe directors I meet today just watch movies. And

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.

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