Would you like a relay baton with that Happy Meal? McDonald's goes for Olympic gold

Obesity campaigners criticise sponsor for linking Games with unhealthy fast food

In the week that the British medical profession united behind a campaign to fight obesity, McDonald's, a sponsor of the Olympics, has come up with its own recipe to improve children's health: nine million free toys, two one-eyed mascots and a mysterious force called "Rainbow Power".

In the wake of criticism from nutritionists over the global fast food brand's involvement with the Olympics, McDonald's is giving away free exercise toys with Happy Meals as part of a national campaign to make children more active ahead of the Games.

The restaurant hopes children will use the toys – two stepometers, a bat and ball, a shuttle run counter and a relay baton – to keep track of how much exercise they are doing and then log their "activity points" online.

Some of the nine million toys will be given out free during the tour of 68 UK locations and they will also be available to buy individually from restaurants and online. But most will come with the hamburger and fries that make up an ordinary Happy Meal – although healthier options are available. The giveaway will be accompanied by a 14-week tour of the UK by the one-eyed Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, who are fuelled by "Rainbow Power" generated by children taking part in exercise.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) this week launched a campaign to combat obesity, describing it as "the single greatest public-health threat in the UK". Among five areas recommended for review was the effect of environment, including advertising and sponsorship, on dietary behaviour.

Professor Terence Stephenson, vice-chair of the AoMRC and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the toys are a good thing because they encourage children to be active. "But having them once you've bought a fairly unhealthy meal just doesn't stack up."

Tourism chief: 2012 visitor boom unlikely

Any increase in the number of tourists visiting the UK during this Olympic year would be "against all the odds", the chairman of VisitBritain has warned.

Speaking on the fringes of the World Travel & Tourism Council conference in Tokyo, Christopher Rodrigues warned that any country that holds a major global event sees a decline in visitors and tourism spending that same year. Mr Rodrigues's words carry weight, as his agency is the public body tasked with marketing the UK across the globe.

"A flat year of year-on-year growth would be a good outcome," he said. "A flat year would mean that we've done well against all the odds, all the history."

Mr Rodrigues said that he believes there will be spare hotel rooms in the capital during the Games, despite the thousands of people who will descend on London to watch the two-week sporting jamboree. That increase will be offset by a decline in business travel, as major corporations will choose to hold their meetings and conferences in other parts of the world.

Mark Leftly

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine