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

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Life & Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers