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

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Danish director Lars von Trier
tvEnglish-language series with 'huge' international cast set for 2016
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering