Spectators and athletes at the London Olympic Games next summer will be able to patron what will be the busiest and biggest McDonald’s restaurant in the world. With four outlets at the Olympic Park in Stratford, London, the largest will stand at 30,000 square feet and hold 1,500 people at one time. The two-story giant fast-food outlet is expected to serve 14 million meals, including approximately 50,000 Big Macs, 100,000 portions of fries, and 30,000 milkshakes during the 17-day competition.
The London games mark the ninth consecutive Olympics where McDonald’s has held the rights as the event’s official restaurant and only branded food retailer feeding the athletes.
Talk about mixed messages! There appears to be a severe disconnect when examining this ambitious business venture. The Olympic Games appear to represent the pinnacle of athletic prowess and physical potential, promoting corporeal awareness, and a healthy, active lifestyle. These ideals appear superficial, asinine, and almost satirical when one considers the public health track record of McDonald’s.
Particularly ironic is the pledge of the previous UK Labour government to use the Olympic Games as a way of getting two million more Britons to adopt a more active lifestyle to combat rising rates of obesity. Grahame Morris, a member of the parliamentary health committee, questions McDonald’s sponsorship of the Games.
Given the huge public health issues of childhood obesity, it is legitimate to question whether having the world’s biggest McDonald’s at the Olympic Park is sending an appropriate message to our young people.
The deal seems rather contradictory while almost a third of children in the UK are classified as overweight or obese by the time they leave secondary school. While a spokesperson for the British Medical Association stressed that “these products should be seen as very rare treats,” an estimated one in five meals eaten during the Olympics will be from McDonald’s.