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Exercise

Ugh, McDonald’s Hands Out Activity Tracker With Happy Meals

Posted August 23, 2016 by Yoni Freedhoff

Though they only lasted a single day, it wasn’t public cynicism over McDonald’s latest scheme to excuse eating there that sunk them, it was skin rashes that ended their Happy Meal provision of fitness trackers.

But I bet they’ll be back.

It’s great business for the food industry to state directly (like Coca-Cola’s Global Energy Balance briefly tried to) or indirectly that exercise excuses (or balances) a crappy diet.

Though exercise is the world’s best drug, as I’ve noted, it’s not a weight loss drug, and though exercise absolutely mitigates the risks of both weight and likely diet too, that McDonald’s believes fitness trackers to be a Happy Meal draw is worrisome.

It’s worrisome because McDonald’s belief that kids and their parents would see the activity trackers as both incentive and permission to eat there suggests that society is well and fully bought into the notion that exercise trumps diet.

So too does the much lauded scheme floated a few months ago that foods fronts-of-packages be festooned with “activity equivalent labeling“.

And this photo of an advertisement from a local community centre that I took just 2 days ago.

“HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO! (We’ll help you work it off!)”

Listen, for most of us (me included), life includes some junk food, but all this to say, I worry about the potential unintended consequences of continuing to dumb down exercise to calories burned as the one thing people today don’t need are more reasons to believe that they deserve a break today.

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