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Government falls for McDonalds' marketing ploy

Fri, 4 Mar 2005

Government falls for McDonalds' marketing ploy

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling on the Minister of Health to pull the plug on its ill-advised plans to have fast food chain McDonalds sponsor mobile dental services around New Zealand.

Ms Kedgley said DHBs that accept McDonalds' sponsorship are effectively endorsing McDonalds and the products it sells, and collaborating in McDonalds' marketing and advertising plans.

"Surely as a former dental nurse the Health Minister understands that one of the major reasons for poor dental health among our children today is the amount of high-sugar food and drinks our children are consuming.

"McDonalds sells these high-sugar drinks and foods that are damaging our children's teeth as well as health, and so it is incomprehensible that a government health service would promote a company which contributes to the dental problems the clinic is trying to fix.

"I can well understand that branded mobile dental clinics represent an invaluable marketing and public relations opportunity for McDonalds, allowing them to access impressionable young children and link their products with health experts.

"But I am flabbergasted that our DHBs, which have a mandate to improve the health of their communities, would fall for these marketing tactics.

"The Minister must pull the plug on this insidious marketing ploy."

Ms Kedgley said she was horrified to learn that other DHBs had accepted McDonalds funding and that the Wellington and central New Zealand health boards are not ruling out McDonalds sponsorship.

"If this trend continues McDonalds will become an essential part of the funding of DHB dental care.

"The fundamental question is why is the Ministry funding DHBs so inadequately that they are having to resort to these desperate tactics?

"And why are these same DHBs not taking simple measures that would eliminate the need for mobile dental caravans in the first place - like requiring that all schools have water-only drinking policies in their schools?"

The truth is that fast food companies like McDonalds have so successfully infiltrated our education and now our health system that DHBs, schools and the Government are unwilling to act, she said.

ENDS

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