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Corporate Accountability International will release a report on Wednesday looking at how McDonald's uses Ronald McDonald as a marketing tool to market unhealthy products to children. The report includes information on childhood obesity rates, health and how Americans see Ronald McDonald.
"For nearly 50 years McDonald's and its iconic clown Ronald have hooked kids on unhealthy food, spurring a deadly epidemic," Deborah Lapidus, senior organizer for CAI, told Slashfood.
"The report is ultimately making the case that it's time McDonald's stopped targeting our kids directly with fast food marketing," Lapidus said. "Ronald deserves a break and so do we."
McDonald's, however, says Ronald McDonald is a "beloved brand ambassador" for the fast-food chain. "He is the heart and soul of Ronald McDonald House Charities, which lends a helping hand to families in their time of need, particularly when families need to be near their critically-ill children in hospitals. In fact, 4 million children are helped every year around the world through the Ronald McDonald House Charities," the company told Slashfood in a statement.
"Ronald also helps deliver messages to families on many important subjects such as safety, literacy, and the importance of physical activity and making balanced food choices."
Corporate Accountability International plans to hold nearly two dozen events at McDonald's restaurants and at colleges around the country Wednesday as it announces the contents of its report on Ronald McDonald, the Tribune reported.
Events are being held in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Greensboro, N.C., Minneapolis, San Francisco and Burlington, Vt., among other locations.
"Ultimately we want to reverse an epidemic that is taking the lives of millions of people every year," Lapidus told Slashfood. That begins, she said, with eliminating the "cradle to grave" marketing of unhealthy food.
The advocacy group has also launched campaigns against bottled water and tobacco companies.