Fast and Pluribus: Impacts of a Globalizing McDonald’s

The expansion of McDonald’s in the twentieth century brought the fast food chain to more than 100 countries. But how well did it integrate into its new home(s)?

McDonald's Japan Swing Manager Miwa Suzuki presents a box of McChoco Potato on January 25, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan

The connection between globalization and McDonald’s is a tale of scholarly metonymy. There’s no textual shortage of evidence that references the now-global fast food chain’s success in other countries , often linking it to themes of self-sufficiency, post-industrial stability, and democracy-formed capitalism.

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Among these chunks of research is a more endogenous angle that examines the impact McDonald’s has had within offshore cultures; namely, how the American fast food model has been diffused across different countries. Such case studies, which look at individual cultural phenomena and their direct applications to globalization activity, refines not only the framework of McDonald’s in theories, but overall globalization processes and strategies as well.

Japan’s stylish renditions of fast food practices, for one, existed long before McDonald’s came to the country. Given the existing popularity of convenient and on-the-go meals—including conveyor belt sushi and street vendor meals—American fast food chains were bound to succeed. Scholars John W. Traphagan and L. Keith Brown investigate this supposition by employing an ethnographic model of research, building the argument that Japan not only assimilated—but basically swallowed whole—the McDonald’s dining model , to the point that younger people especially believe McDonald’s is a Japanese company.

Traphagan and Brown emphasize that, rather than “styles of preparation or ingredients,” fast food is defined by “a style of selling food.” Essentially, McDonald’s brought no real paradigm shifts to Japan—but rather constructed a space in which already-formed Japanese cultural practices could continue.

Their case study contrasts with that of geographers Ray Oldakowski and John McEwen, who similarly investigate McDonald’s and its cultural assimilation—but in Ecuador. Their evidence shows that the integration of American fast food dining followed a different path , and McDonald’s remains an obviously foreign establishment in the cityscape. McDonald’s didn’t attempt to adapt to Japanese or Ecuadorian culture (for McDonald’s, “the strategy has been one of consistency, i.e. McDonald’s prefers not to change its way of doing business to adapt to foreign cultures, rather, it changes local cultures to meet its own needs,” they note), but Ecuadorians clearly viewed the fast food chain as a deviation from local tastes, unlike Japanese consumers.

“[A] comparison of exterior designs revealed that the McDonald’s in Guayaquil [Ecuador] were very similar to the typical McDonald’s restaurants in the United States,” write the authors. Moreover, the menus were also similar. Only 2 percent of those polled considered the food served at McDonald’s similar to Ecuadorian food. In contrast, very few interviewees considered Kentucky Fried Chicken—another American fast food establishment—different from Ecuadorian food. Eighty-four percent reported that KFC was the most similar to Ecuadorian food, and 68 percent said it was actually where they dined regularly.

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“Those results suggest that McDonald’s might gain new customers, and more visits from existing customers, if they also offered menu items more typical of Ecuadorian food,” conclude the authors.

In neither Japan nor Ecuador did McDonald’s actively work to adapt itself to the tastes of the host countries, but the depth of integration into local dining customs differed between the two nations. Such observations could prompt additional nation-specific analyses and possibly reveal additional adaptations to the “strategy of consistency” associated with McDonald’s. However, the study of the globalization of fast food from a micro-cultural angle requires challenging assumptive attitudes around American businesses and classical theories, with one of the most popular—and infamously controvertible—examples being the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention , built on tropes of democratic peace through development. Globalization and its effects could also be examined in light of McDonald’s cultural impacts on its origin country of America, opening a conversation on socio-economics and class .

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Analysis on Marketing Segmentation of McDonald's

DOI: ICEBI 2020: 2020 The 4th International Conference on E-Business and Internet , Singapore, Singapore, October 2020

McDonald's is one of the most popular fast-food restaurants companies in the world. The way McDonald's built its marketing segmentation remains mysterious. Though there are multiple articles online discussing its marketing strategy, none of them clearly indicate the different approaches McDonald's utilized to build its marketing segmentation. In order to analyze McDonald's approaches to build marketing segmentation, seven different countries’ McDonald's websites are visited and the product types information from the official menu list on the websites are extracted. These seven countries represent seven continents while Antarctica is not considered. India and China are chosen since they are the most populated countries on the Earth. Then, every approach that McDonald's using in building marketing segmentation is listed out and how these approaches contribute to the overall structure is analyzed. The approaches all have advantages and drawbacks at the same time. Meanwhile, the five-year total return rates indicate that McDonald's has won its customers’ hearts in these several years.

ACM Reference Format: Jing An. 2020. Analysis on Marketing Segmentation of McDonald's. In 2020 The 4th International Conference on E-Business and Internet (ICEBI 2020), October 09-11, 2020, Singapore, Singapore . ACM, New York, NY, USA, 4 pages.

1 Introduction

McDonald's is one of the most popular restaurant chains in the world. Nowadays, there are more than 40000 McDonald's restaurants globally which serve tens of millions of customers every day [ 2 ]. The question becomes what did McDonald's do in order to make sure its customers stuck on McDonald's products. The difficult part is that each of the customers has a different profile. The profile could include elements as broad as nationality and elements that are much more specific such as preference of meat. To satisfy all these needs, it's crucial to know about customers and build a marketing segmentation so that the other departments could start advertising and branding accordingly. Indeed, McDonald's marketing team does a lot of work behind and one of its jobs is to build customer segmentation in order to know their customers better and target new potential customers. In the following text, the goal is to explore what approaches do McDonald's use to build marketing segmentation.

2 Methodology

2.1 data collection.

McDonald's is a giant international fast-food company. Aside from its operation in the U.S, McDonald's also operates in another 117 countries across the world [ 1 ]. In addition, these 118 countries in total cover all seven continents. Since the goal is to explore all approaches used by McDonald's to build its marketing segmentation and geographic approach is one of its components. It's necessary to pick countries that represent its continents. The menu information would be extracted from each country's McDonald's website. It's logically sound to select countries that have the most population in its continents. Thus, the following countries were selected which are the U.S, China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Australia and Germany. The reason that Egypt is chosen instead of the two other countries with more population is that those two countries do not have McDonald's operation as for now. Meanwhile, China and India are selected together because they are two of the most populated countries in the world and they have almost identical populations as now. Last but not least, Russia does not have an official McDonald's site which makes the data collection impossible. In this case, Russia was replaced with Germany which are on the second place with most population in Europe.

2.2 Geographic Approach

McDonald's is an international fast-food chain. In this case, it not only has restaurants in the U.S, but also in other countries. People living in different countries have very different eating habits and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, McDonald's must segment different regions correctly in order to keep its dominance in the globe. In Table 1 , region and density are the two major criteria McDonald's take into account. Under the region criteria, it indicates whether the region is domestic or international is the first parameter McDonald's takes into account. McDonald's developed further strategies to perfect its marketing segmentation plan. In fact, McDonald's menus differ all over the world. As a result of different preferences on the meat kind, McDonald's adjusts its menu accordingly in different countries.

Type of segmentation Segmentation criteria McDonald's target segment
Region Domestic/international
Density Urban/rural
Country Chicken “burger” types percentage Beef “burger” types Percentage other(fish/veggie)
U.S 2 16.66% 9 75% 1
China 3 23.07% 8 61.53% 2
Brazil 3 17.64% 14 82.35% 0
Egypt 12 42.86% 14 50.00% 2/1
India 4 50.00% 0 0% 1/3
Germany 3 23.07% 7 53.8% 2/2
Australia 5 25.00% 13 65.00% 2/1

Table 2 displays the distribution of McDonald's flagship product(burgers) on the menu in different regions around the world. It's clear that McDonald's does not keep the same menu for different countries. All of them showed some differences compared to other countries. One of the countries that stand out is India. Due to factors like religious beliefs and local customs, a lot of Indians view cattle as a holy symbol. Thus, beef is not welcome in Indian culture. McDonald's took beef products entirely from the menu not only to ensure its profit but also to respect the local culture in a sense. Another country that stands out in this table is Egypt. McDonald's Egypt provides most burger products among these seven countries. The locals seem to have a split preference on different meat kinds. Thus, McDonald's simply offered Egyptians tons of choices to select from their desire. In addition, the fact that China and India are neighboring countries but having two drastically different menus indicates that geographic approach is highly crucial. Another example in this case is that McDonald's Japan sell TeriTama Burger in springtime and Tsukimi Burger in Autumn. Both of these burgers are for sale in limited time and designed to celebrate cherry blossom season and harvest moon festivals respectively [ 6 ]. This illustrates how McDonald's segment different regions based on cultural backgrounds.

Another aspect that fits in the geographic approach is the density of a certain area. Those McDonald's in the urban area have a greater chance of testing new products whereas those in rural areas may have a more conservative menu. This was driven by the fact that there are more people visiting the ones in urban areas. Thus, it's more logical for McDonald's to spend on advertisements and coupons in these urban locations about their products.

2.3 Demographic Approach

Table 3 illustrates McDonald's demographic approach including age, gender, life-cycle stage occupation, religious belief, and so on. In terms of age, McDonald's segments them into a variety of different groups. As for the young kid, McDonald's designed a special meal for them which is called “Happy Meal”. There are three different setups in the U.S market. Meanwhile, they all consist of little fries and milk which are products that are designed for young kids. Oftentimes, there will be toys included in these meals. Though people in other age groups may don't value them enough, its effect on young kids is huge. As for the teenager group who are mostly students, McDonald has not only priced their products aggressively to retain these group of people who are sensitive about the price, but also provide amenities such as Wi-Fi to attract students [ 5 ]. As for the grown-up, McDonald's offers them coffee products which cannot be compared to a conventional coffee shop. These designs clearly target customers who belong to different age groups. As for other segment criteria, McDonald's would create a framework that address all these characteristics.

Type of segmentation Segmentation criteria McDonald's target segment
Demographic Age All age
Gender Male/Female
Income Low and Middle
Occupations Students, Employees

2.4 Behavioral Approach

In terms of Behavioral Approach, it plays a significant role within McDonald's segmentation system. In Table 4 , it's clear that McDonald's segmentation builder includes the degree of loyalty to the restaurant and Benefits sought. The research from McDonald's UK indicates that 36% of consumers eat McDonald's food because of its value. This 36% of respondents buy McDonald's food because they believe McDonald's products bring them great cost benefits [ 1 ]. In addition, these consumers feel like McDonald's not only provides cheaper prices for its hamburgers, fries, and drinks compared to other fast-food chains, the food portion is also very ideal compared to their competitors. For instance, 20 pieces of chicken nuggets are only a little bit over six dollars which are a dollar more compared to 10 pieces of chicken nuggets. However, McDonald's realize there are other customers who value time efficiency more than the cost benefits. These groups of people may care less about how much they saved from each McDonald's meal, but care more about having a meal which can provide enough energy calories in a certain amount of time. McDonald's, therefore, comes up with different services to satisfy those customers’ needs. While Drive-thru has been implemented by McDonald's since the 1960s, McDonald's developed this McDonald app order feature in 2013. Customers just need to order products they want from their mobile apps in advance. Then, they simply need to drive up to the curb of a McDonald's restaurant and scan a code. McDonald's staff would automatically bring their food outside to their cars. This would save the customer from waiting in the line inside the restaurant and lower the burden on the kitchen during rush hour quite a bit.

Type of segmentation Segmentation criteria McDonald's target segment
Behavioral Degree of loyalty “Hard core loyals” / “Switchers”
Benefits sought Cost benefits, time efficiency

Meanwhile, another aspect in the behavioral approach is the degree of loyalty. The distinction is quite obvious. There are those “hardcore loyals” and those “switchers” eat McDonald's occasionally according to Table 4 . In this case, figuring out how to retain its customers became the key. In early 2017, McDonald's launched a reward program in its mobile app [ 3 ]. The program would record previous transactions and apply the credit to a future transaction. Apparently, McDonald's competitor Taco Bell had launched a program similar to McDonald's program and received a considerable amount of growth because of its program. Though McDonald's is late in the game, McDonald's reward program would still potentially lock down those “switchers”, especially those who are sensitive to a price change.

2.5 Psychographic Approach

The psychographic approach can be hard to describe. In Table 5 , it indicates that McDonald's mainly values customers' patterns of work and leisure and their lifestyle through the psychographic approach. For instance, customers who come into an urban location between 12 pm to 6 pm indicates that they are the working class who may simply try to grab lunch or dinner. For those who come in between 6om to 12 am are mostly evening and night shift staff, working in various shops nearby McDonald's stores. Therefore during their breaks and when they finish their job, normally visit McDonald's. The last group between 12 am to 12 pm, they are mostly the working class again who has to start their work early. Interestingly, this group has proved to be a constant customer. Another reason that explains why the Psychographic approach could be so hard to describe is how it links to the other approach. For instance, similarities between the behavioral approach and psychographic approach can be drawn when it comes to lifestyle. Customers who have a busy lifestyle would value time efficiency as well. Furthermore, the table under the geographical approach indicates there are countries that have vegetable burgers on their menus. This would indicates there is a certain customer base who potentially live in a vegetarian lifestyle. Thus, certain approaches could not be discussed individually.

Type of segmentation Segmentation criteria McDonald's target segment
Psychographic Social class Lower, working
Lifestyle NA

3 Discussion

The reason that McDonald's has to utilize so many different approaches to build marketing segmentation is due to its enormous scale. To accommodate so many consumers, it may have to come down to each individual region management team to conduct marketing segmentation. In this case, a different approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. As for the geographical approach and demographic approach, their advantage is similar to that of researchers who can get a large amount of data to build up the frame. On the contrary, while geographic regions do not guarantee a homogenous preference which could mislead the research, the demographic approach can be too broad for executives to make decisions. Meanwhile, the other two approaches would offer decision-makers vivid images to implement policies based on Customers’ complex lifestyles and sought. However, they could be sometimes very vague and hard to implement in a lot of cases. Nevertheless, these four approaches seemed to work for McDonald's favor according to Figure 1 . From 2014 to 2019, while the total return for both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials failed to reach the 200 $ mark, the total return for McDonald's was within a hair of the 250 $ mark. It is clear that McDonald's five-year total return outruns the market, which exemplifies the marketing segmentation implemented by McDonald's is a success.

Figure 1

Figure 1. McDonald's Five-Year total return comparison [2]

4 Conclusion

The four different approaches used by McDonald's to build its marketing segmentation has been proved. Though each of them is only able to contribute a limited amount of impact, utilizing them efficiently could lead to great marketing strategies. Meanwhile, these four marketing segmentation approaches could be used in a variety of other consumer products industry. At the end of the day, getting to know customers better would help any enterprise to develop a better business plan and these approaches here are the key elements that support the research.


I would like to say thank you to Professor Stephen Coggeshall who helped me develop my business analytic skills as well as offering me guidance on constructing this paper. It has been an honor to work with Professor Coggeshall.

  • Customer retention at McDonalds. UKEssays., November 2018. Web. 13 August 2020.
  • McDonald's. 2019 annual report, February 26, 2020. corporate.McDonalds.web. Aug 13, 2020
  • Samuely, Alex. McDonald's Loyalty Strategy Matures beyond Mobile Coupon Enticement. Retail Dive, 2017,
  • McDonald's Menu: Our Full McDonald's Food Menu: McDonald's. menu.html. 2020
  • The concept of segmentation and its process. 11 2018. UKEssays.
  • Keenan, Michael. Geographic Segmentation: What It Is and Why You Need It. ManyChat Blog, 3 Aug. 2020, 

Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from [email protected] .

ICEBI 2020, October 09–11, 2020, Singapore, Singapore

© 2020 Association for Computing Machinery. ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-8857-3/20/10…$15.00. DOI:

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Comparing McDonald’s food marketing practices on official Instagram accounts across 15 countries

Omni cassidy.

1 Department of Population Health, NYU Langone Health, New York, New York, USA

Hye Won Shin

2 Department of Public Health Nutrition, New York University School of Global Public Health, New York, New York, USA

Edmund Song

Everett jiang, ravindra harri, catherine cano, rajesh vedanthan, gbenga ogedegbe, marie bragg, associated data.


Data are available on reasonable request.

Social media advertising by fast food companies continues to increase globally, and exposure to food advertising contributes to poor diet and negative health outcomes (eg, cardiovascular disease). McDonald’s—the largest fast food company in the world—operates in 101 countries, but little is known about their marketing techniques in various regions. The objective of this study was to compare the social media advertising practices of McDonald’s—the largest fast food company in the world—in 15 high-income, upper-middle-income and lower-middle-income countries.

We randomly selected official McDonald’s Instagram accounts for 15 high-income, upper-middle-income and lower-middle-income countries. We captured all the screenshots that McDonald’s posted on those Instagram accounts from September to December 2019. We quantified the number of followers, ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and video views associated with each account in April 2020. We used content analysis to examine differences in the marketing techniques.

The 15 accounts collectively maintained 10 million followers and generated 3.9 million ‘likes’, 164 816 comments and 38.2 million video views. We identified 849 posts. The three lower-middle-income countries had more posts (n=324; M, SD=108.0, 38.2 posts) than the five upper-middle-income countries (n=227; M, SD=45.4, 37.5 posts) and seven high-income countries (n=298; M, SD=42.6, 28.2 posts). Approximately 12% of the posts in high-income countries included child-targeted themes compared with 22% in lower-middle-income countries. Fourteen per cent of the posts in high-income countries included price promotions and free giveaways compared with 40% in lower-middle-income countries.


Social media advertising has enabled McDonald’s to reach millions of consumers in lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries with disproportionately greater child-targeted ads and price promotions in lower-middle-income countries. Such reach is concerning because of the increased risk of diet-related illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, in these regions.

What this paper adds

  • McDonald’s posts 154% more posts in lower-middle-income countries compared to higher-income countries.
  • McDonald’s uses more child-targeted marketing themes in lower-middle-income countries compared to higher-income countries.
  • McDonald’s uses more health promotion themes in higher-income countries compared to lower-middle- and upper-middle-income countries.


Poor diet is the leading cause of mortality worldwide, 1 2 and places individuals at risk for obesity and non-communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. 2 3 Although several factors influence diet, fast food has been linked to poor diet and obesity because of its calorically dense, nutritionally poor quality. 4–6 More than 30% of US youth consume fast food daily, 7 and fast food restaurant chains have rapidly increased their global presence, particularly in lower-income countries. 8 McDonald’s is the largest fast food company in the world with more than 14 000 restaurants in the US and nearly 22 000 restaurants in other countries. 9 Given fast food’s impact on nutrition and negative health outcomes, 4 the growth of fast food companies’ internationally, especially in lower-income countries, may exacerbate the double healthcare and economic burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. 1 10

Although the relationship between the growth of fast food companies internationally and the individual demand for fast food is complex, fast food advertisements (‘ads’) play an influential role in persuading individuals to consume fast foods. 11 Food and beverage ads are ubiquitous on television and in outdoor settings, but social media ads are an emerging area of concern. 12 Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, 13 and allows fast food companies to advertise products through posting images and videos, and engaging with their followers through accompanying captions and comments. Currently, 60% of the world’s population uses the internet and 50% of the users are active on social media. 14 According to one growth projection, nearly 60% of global internet users were using social media in January 2020, which equates to over 3.8 billion social media users. 15 In an online study surveying over 15 000 adults from the US, the UK, Canada, Mexica and Australia, 64% of participants reported exposure to sugary drink marketing through online ads or social media. 16 Fast food companies that advertise on social media, therefore, are capable of increasing their market to people around the world who regularly access social media.

Data increasingly show that the majority of food and beverage ads on social media are for unhealthy foods and beverages. 17–19 In one study examining social media food and beverage ads in Australia, all of the foods advertised on Facebook pages managed by the food and beverage brands were for energy-dense, nutritionally poor foods. 17 Another study showed that 77% of the social media ads Canadian adolescents viewed within a 5-minute period were for unhealthy food and beverage ads, and 97% of these foods were considered high in fat, sugar and salt. 18 Exposure to these types of ads may contribute to food preferences and consumption that may precipitate poor diet and adverse health outcomes in these communities. 11

One of largest qualitative analyses of fast food ads across different countries examined 16 food and beverage company websites in Germany and the US (high-income countries (HICs)), China and Mexico (upper-middle-income countries (UMICs)) and India and the Philippines (lower-middle-income countries (LMICs)). 20 Results suggested that fast food companies advertised more healthy products in wealthier countries compared with lower-income countries, demonstrating segmentation in their advertising techniques across countries. 20 That study also found that food and beverage companies promoted more philanthropic activities in lower-income countries compared with wealthier countries. 20 Another content analysis examining 2 000 social media posts in the US demonstrated that 30% of posts included captions that attempted to interact directly with social media users. 19 Little is known, however, about the marketing techniques of a single food company in countries with varying economic statuses.

To determine if there are differences in the marketing techniques across multiple countries of varying economic statuses, the objective of this study was to compare Instagram posts for McDonald’s, the largest global fast food franchise, 13 in a subset of 15 countries of varying gross domestic products (GDPs) and: (1) determine the number of followers, ‘likes’, comments, posts, video posts and total views of videos and (2) quantify the frequency with which McDonald’s uses different marketing strategies.

We identified a sample of 15 countries based on three criteria: (1) if McDonald's was sold in the country; (2) if the country had an official McDonald’s Instagram page and (3) if the country could be categorised as an HIC, UMIC or LMIC based on 2019 World Bank classifications. 21 We chose McDonald’s because it is the largest global fast food chain, 13 and selected Instagram because it is one of the most popular social media platforms for adolescents and young adults with approximately one billion active users per month. 22 23

Data collection

We collected data from September 2019 to April 2020, and the Instagram posts were gathered from September to December 2019. We used McDonald’s corporate website to generate a list of all the countries with McDonald’s fast food chains (see figure 1 for flow chart). We then made a list of all official McDonald’s Instagram accounts for each of the countries. To determine if the Instagram account was officially associated with McDonald’s, we confirmed the presence of a ‘verification badge’ on the Instagram profile. A verification badge is a blue checkmark logo that appears next to the account’s name that signifies that Instagram has confirmed the account is associated with a celebrity, public figure or global brand. McDonald’s only had one official account for most of the countries. If McDonald’s had more than one official account for the country, we used the account with the most followers. From this list, we selected a subset of 15 countries, ensuring that at least one country was represented in each of the continents in which McDonald’s operates. The country remained in the sample pool if it met the inclusion criteria. If a country did not meet the criteria, it was excluded, and another country was randomly selected. This process was repeated until all 15 countries met the criteria. We initially identified and selected countries based on GDP. On further reflection, we determined that classifications from the 2019 World Bank Database were more appropriate. 21 We then grouped the countries into their respective economic categories based on the three classifications defined by the 2019 World Bank Database: HIC, UMIC and LMIC. 21 We screen captured all posts on the official McDonald’s Instagram accounts from 1 September 2019 to 31 December 2019. In April 2020, we recorded image type (image or video) and number of ‘likes’, comments and video views, if applicable.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is bmjnph-2021-000229f01.jpg

Flow chart of country selection.

Establishing the qualitative codebook

To evaluate the posts for their marketing content, we developed a qualitative codebook based on similar qualitative food marketing studies. 19 24 The codebook ( online supplemental appendix 1 ) included the following variables: (1) food and/or beverage shown; (2) celebrity/influencers/sponsorships; (3) healthy habits (eg, exchanging fries for apples); (4) child-targeted (eg, showing a picture of a child or adolescent); (5) special price promotions; (6) promote McDonald’s app, website or McDelivery; (7) free giveaway/voucher; (8) culturally relevant (eg, religious symbols); (9) engagements (eg, encouragements to like, comment or read the bio); (10) philanthropy/charity; (11) emotional appeal; (12) new branch (ie, promoting a newly opened McDonald’s restaurant) and (13) humour (eg, memes). We discussed the definition of each codebook category to ensure consistency among coders. The definition of each marketing technique is summarised in table 1 .

Definition of the marketing techniques

Marketing techniqueDefinition
Food and/or beverage shownAny visual food or beverage item. (For food, this does not include packaging. For beverage, this can include beverage cups as long as the post does not clearly show that the cup is empty. Background menu with images of food/beverage does not apply to this category as well as animated food/beverage unless it is part of the concept of the post)
Celebrity/influencer/sponsorshipsIncludes a reference to the person or organisation (must have over 10K followers) on the post or is partnering with McDonald’s
Healthy habitsPromotes healthy diet, exercise, conservation efforts, local farms, education or any other ideas that promote the well-being of the person or environment
Child-targetedShows a child, cartoons, Happy Meal, toys, characters (eg, from films) or any other child-related themes
Special price promotionsDiscount offers, 2-for-1 deals, buy-one-get-free deals or any other reduced-price promotions
Promote McDonald’s App, website or McDeliveryPromotes app, website or McDelivery in any way (eg, app store logo)
Free giveaway/voucherIncludes competitions with free prizes, free food offers and any other free giveaways that do not include purchasing another item
Culturally relevantIncludes holidays, famous monuments (has to be relevant to its country), religious symbols or any other reference to the country’s culture
EngagementEncourages to like, comment, read the bio or any other way to interact with the post
Philanthropy/charityUndertakes any charitable work
Emotional appealEvokes emotional reaction (eg, happiness) or allows to reminiscence
New branchMarkets a new regional McDonald’s that has opened
HumourAny post that attempts to use comic marketing (eg, memes, jokes, comic actions)

Supplementary data

Pilot coding.

Pilot coding was conducted to establish interrater reliability using 10% of the posts. An acceptable level of reliability was determined by at least a 90.0% agreement or Krippendorf alpha coefficient of 0.70 or above. 25 Five coders were initially trained on the codebook and participated in the pilot coding. However, only two coders achieved a Krippendorf alpha coefficient of at least 0.70 or 90.0% agreement for all variables, and they coded the remaining 90% of the data. The codes for the remaining three coders were discarded. Because the two coders rated the same sample of data, there were two potential sets of data. The final dataset was composed of half of each of the two coders’ sets of data based on random selection. Some of the countries’ Instagram accounts had posts that were not in English, so we used Google Translator in the Chrome extension to translate these posts into English.

Data analytical plan

We used R V.1.2.1578 to conduct descriptive analyses to calculate the number of followers, ‘likes’, comments, posts, video posts and video views associated with each McDonald’s Instagram account. We also calculated the frequency that McDonald’s used each marketing technique across the 15 countries.

Patient and public involvement

The project does not include human subjects and was exempt from human subjects ethics review committee. It was not appropriate or possible to involve patients or the public in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of our research.

Descriptive characteristics

We identified McDonald’s franchises in a total of 118 countries, and McDonald’s had official Instagram accounts for 62 countries. Our subset of 15 countries (25% of all accounts) included: the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Portugal and Panama (HICs); Romania, Lebanon, Malaysia, Brazil and South Africa (UMICs) and Indonesia, Egypt and India (LMICs). These countries collectively maintained 10 million followers, generated 3 883 952 ‘likes’, 164 816 comments, and 38 247 012 video views, and posted 849 times during the 4-month data collection period (see table 2 ). The average numbers of followers were 2.1 million (LMICs; 0.9% of Instagram users), 3.5 million (UMICs; 2.0% of Instagram users) and 4.4 million (UICs; 1.5% of Instagram users; see table 2 ). The countries with the highest number of followers included the US (3.7 million; HIC), Brazil (2.6 million; UMIC) and Indonesia (1.1 million; LMIC).

Characteristics of McDonald’s Instagram account by country for the third quartile of 2019

Income categoryCountryTotal Instagram users (n)*McDonald’s Instagram followers (n)Posts during study period (n)Average likes per post (n)Average comments per post (n)Total videos (n)Average views per video (n)
HighUS120M3.7M1419 0956505160 447
Canada13M117K631003511822 195
UK24M180K163615136142 293
UAE3.8M74.7K43881443017 516
Subtotals†175.9M4.4M298508514110042 638
Average (SD)†44.0M (66.3M)659K (1.3M)43 (28)2373 (4808)71 (170)25 (32)20 735 (44 329)
Lebanon1.6M121K10829101781218 715
Malaysia12M475K18223456533 796
Brazil77M2.6M4135 258134330879 954
South Africa4M46.4K155341025100
Subtotals†98.3M3.5M227860132049234 391
Average (SD)†32.8M (43.2M)657K (1.1M)45 (37)8376 (28 741)340 (1072)16 (19)529 989 (952 071)
Lower-middleIndonesia63M1.1M15254802485871 218
Egypt11M847K8833311154994 640
Subtotals†154M2.1M3243538*195*14891 676*
Average (SD)†77.0M (59.1M)709K (475K)108 (38)3944 (6195)205 (408)74 (50)61 784 (192 219)
Grand total1.1B10M8495741*219*297122 902*

*Data available from: Digital 2020: Global Digital Overview (Internet). 15 Smart Insights and Hootsuite. 14 2020 (cited 30 June 2020). Available from: https://datareportalcom/reports/digital-2020-global-digital-overview .

†Averages rounded down to whole numbers to improve interpretation.

UAE, United Arab Emirates.

We identified 153.7% more posts on average in LMICs compared with HICs. That is, we identified an average (SD) of 108.0 (38.2) posts in the LMICs as compared with 42.6 (28.2) posts in the HICs during the same time period.

Qualitative analysis of marketing strategies

Child-targeted marketing themes appeared more frequently in lower-income countries than HICs (see figure 2 ). The reverse was true for health promotion themes. We identified 71 (22.0%, see table 3 ) child-targeted posts in LMICs, but just 33 child-targeted posts (14.5%) in UMICs and 37 (12.4%) in HICs. The HICs’ accounts also portrayed more healthy habits (n=14, 4.7%) compared with the UMICs’ accounts (n=6, 2.6%) and LMICs’ accounts (n=8, 2.5%).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is bmjnph-2021-000229f02.jpg

Food and beverage advertisements (‘ads’) shown and marketing strategies used by McDonald’s on Instagram by economic classification for the third quartile of 2019.

Marketing strategies used by McDonald’s on Instagram for each country for the third quartile of 2019

Income categoryCountryFood/
beverage shown
n (%)
n (%)
Health n (%)Child
n (%)
n (%)
n (%)
n (%)
n (%)
n (%)
n (%)
n (%)
Branch n (%)Humour n (%)
HighUSA10 (71.4)5 (35.7)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)2 (14.3)0 (0.0)2 (14.3)1 (7.1)1 (7.1)1 (7.1)0 (0.0)1 (7.1)
Australia43 (50.1)10 (11.8)11 (13.0)13 (15.3)3 (3.5)5 (5.9)0 (0.0)4 (4.7)20 (23.5)9 (10.6)32 (37.6)0 (0.0)12 (14.1)
Canada56 (88.9)8 (12.7)3 (4.8)3 (4.8)2 (3.2)2 (3.2)2 (3.2)14 (22.2)10 (15.9)0 (0.0)3 (4.8)0 (0.0)14 (22.2)
UK14 (87.5)2 (12.5)0 (0.0)1 (6.3)2 (12.5)4 (25.0)2 (12.5)3 (18.8)4 (25.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)4 (25.0)
UAE28 (65.1)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)6 (14.0)7 (16.3)21 (48.8)14 (32.6)5 (11.6)10 (23.3)0 (0.0)8 (18.6)0 (0.0)1 (2.3)
Portugal13 (81.3)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)1 (6.3)8 (50.0)1 (6.3)0 (0.0)1 (6.3)7 (43.8)0 (0.0)5 (31.3)0 (0.0)4 (25.0)
Panama32 (52.5)11 (18.0)0 (0.0)13 (21.3)3 (4.9)3 (4.9)0 (0.0)16 (26.2)18 (29.5)0 (0.0)9 (14.8)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)
Upper-middleRomania22 (48.9)1 (2.2)0 (0.0)8 (17.8)0 (0.0)6 (13.3)2 (4.4)12 (26.7)23 (51.1)1 (2.2)6 (13.3)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)
Lebanon74 (68.5)1 (0.9)6 (5.6)13 (12.0)18 (16.7)16 (14.8)21 (19.4)35 (32.4)76 (70.4)1 (0.9)18 (16.7)0 (0.0)12 (11.1)
Malaysia16 (88.9)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)1 (5.6)8 (44.4)2 (11.1)0 (0.0)1 (5.6)2 (11.1)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)4 (22.2)
Brazil35 (85.4)9 (22.0)0 (0.0)11 (26.8)4 (9.8)9 (22.0)0 (0.0)3 (7.3)5 (12.2)1 (2.4)1 (2.4)2 (4.9)14 (34.1)
South Africa4 (26.7)14 (93.3)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)1 (6.7)0 (0.0)3 (20.0)0 (0.0)0 (0.0)
Lower middleIndonesia100 (65.8)0 (0.0)7 (4.6)42 (27.6)41 (27.0)21 (13.8)33 (21.2)10 (6.6)68 (44.7)3 (2.0)28 (18.4)8 (5.3)3 (2.0)
Egypt61 (69.3)5 (5.7)0 (0.0)15 (17.0)6 (6.8)21 (23.4)15 (17.0)23 (26.1)9 (10.2)0 (0.0)8 (9.1)5 (5.7)3 (3.4)
India52 (61.9)18 (21.4)1 (1.2)14 (16.7)12 (14.3)19 (22.6)22 (26.2)16 (19.1)37 (44.0)1 (1.2)2 (2.4)0 (0.0)14 (16.7)
Totals560 (66.0)84 (9.9)28 (3.3)141 (16.6)114 (13.4)132 (15.5)111 (13.1)145 (17.1)291 (34.3)17 (2.0)124 (14.6)15 (1.8)86 (10.1)

App/web, promote McDonald’s app, website or McDelivery; Branch, new branch opening; Celebrity, celebrity/influencers/sponsorships; Charity, philanthropy/charity; Child, child-targeted; Culture, culturally relevant; Emotion, emotional appeal; Engage, engagements; Give, free giveaway/voucher; Health, healthy habits; Price, special price promotion; UAE, United Arab Emirates.

Two forms of price-related themes—free giveaways and price promotions—appeared more frequently in LMICs' accounts compared with HICs’ accounts. Free giveaways were offered the most on LMICs’ accounts (n=70, 21.6%) compared with the UMICs’ accounts (n=23, 10.1%) and HICs’ accounts (n=18, 6.0%). LMICs’ accounts promoted the most special price promotions (n=59, 18.2%) compared with the UMICs’ accounts (n=30, 13.2%) and the HICs’ accounts (n=25, 8.4%).

Nearly a quarter of all posts included culturally relevant themes, and engagement tools appeared more frequently in LMICs than HICs (see figure 2 ). McDonald’s promoted the opening of a new restaurant more frequently in LMICs’ accounts (n=13, 4.0%) than UMICs’ accounts (n=2, 0.9%) and HICs’ accounts (n=0, 0.0%; see figure 2 ). After rating each country, there were several notable marketing techniques that were unique to one or a small number of countries. For example, 71.4% (n=5) of posts with the healthy habit theme appeared alongside free books and Happy Meals in Indonesia’s account and 50.0% (n=3) in Lebanon’s account. Australia’s account was the only one in the sample that recognised or expressed gratitude to employees and promoted using locally grown produce. Additionally, 93.3% of South Africa’s posts included a celebrity endorsement (n=14; see table 3 ). We also observed country-specific marketing techniques for sports, religion and culture. The Instagram account from Canada, for example, featured the Raptors, a professional basketball team from Toronto. Australia’s account referenced ‘100% Aussie’, and the McDonald’s account for India posted nine images celebrating Diwali, Dussehra and Onam, whereas the account for the UAE and Lebanon depicted Eid and Halal-certified food.

Fast food consumption is one factor influencing poor diet that may precipitate obesity and diet-related chronic illnesses. 4 Exposure to fast food ads through social media may place vulnerable groups—particularly those in lower-income countries—at increased risk for obesity and diet-related chronic conditions. 1 26 This study examined the social media food marketing strategies of McDonald’s, the largest fast food franchise in the world, on Instagram accounts in a subset of 15 countries of varying economic categories. Overall, there were more McDonald’s Instagram posts, on average, on LMICs’ accounts compared with HICs’ accounts, but the data must be interpreted cautiously given the uneven sampling. Data also showed that McDonald’s offered more special price promotions and free giveaway/vouchers on accounts in LMICs compared with UMIC and HICs, suggesting that McDonald’s may be using value price promotions as a marketing technique more in LMICs compared with HICs. Price is a key component of a marketing mix and is often used to aid consumer purchases, particularly among lower-income communities who may use price as a decision point. 27 Although no study has directly examined price promotion marketing techniques on social media in different countries of varying economic categories, these findings are consistent with studies demonstrating the disproportionate amount of price promotion offers with food and/or beverages in lower-income areas. 27–29

More McDonald’s Instagram accounts in LMICs used child-targeted marketing techniques compared with the accounts in UMICs and HICs. Studies have found that many food and beverage companies promote unhealthy food and beverage products on social media using child-targeted marketing, 18 30 influencing brand loyalty at a young age. 31 One study has shown the powerful persuasive effect of using food companies’ brand characters to market to children. 32 Other studies have shown that fast food companies disproportionately target children and young adolescents 33 and more often use child-directed marketing in middle-income neighbourhoods compared with high-income neighbourhoods. 34 Although interpretation is limited due to our sample size and uneven sampling distributions, our findings will add to the growing literature because it highlights the possible relationship between child-targeted marketing techniques on social media and lower-income countries.

This study showed that McDonald’s used celebrity/influencers/sponsorships endorsements more on Instagram accounts in HICs and UMICs compared with LMICs. The persuasive effect of celebrity and influencer endorsements on food marketing has been demonstrated in many studies. 35–37 Celebrity and influencer endorsements may lead to consumers recognising brands more easily, viewing brands more positively, and increasing the desirability of endorsed brands. 35–37 Social media influencers who endorse unhealthy foods, in particular, may also lead to higher consumption of unhealthy foods among youth compared with influencers who endorse non-food products. 36 The similarity of the usage of celebrity endorsement between the HICs’ accounts and the UMICs’ accounts could be attributed to the relatively high use of celebrity endorsement by South Africa’s account, a UMIC. Therefore, a more thorough understanding of the celebrity endorsement technique could be obtained with a larger sample size.

McDonald’s Instagram accounts in HICs featured more healthy habits themes compared with accounts in UMICs and LMICs. This finding is consistent with a similar study by Bragg et al that suggests HICs’ websites promote healthier food alternatives compared with LMICs. 20 However, our definition of healthy habits included many different aspects of well-being ( table 1 ), which may prevent direct comparison. Further studies are needed to more thoroughly assess the healthy habits category. For example, the healthy habits variable could be divided into four smaller variables: reference to healthy diet (eg, apples, salad), reference to exercise, promoting education, and promoting local produce.

Additional considerations when interpreting these data are that McDonald’s may operate differently in various countries. For example, McDonald’s operating in the UK has a different chain of command and operating structure than a McDonald’s in the US. 38 It is also difficult to identify which department manages the social media campaigns and whether the social media is coordinated within the company or contracted to a social media marketing agency. In the US, the social media accounts are typically coordinated within a company; however, if accounts are contracted out in other countries, there may be additional variables to consider. 39 Other factors include whether the country’s government tolerates Western culture, as well as freedom of media. In recent years, for instance, Lebanon has had a widespread government campaign to reduce social media accounts critical of the government. 40 These governmental differences may affect the data as McDonald’s is seen as a Western symbol, which may not be tolerated in some regimes and governments. McDonald’s may have to avert certain Western ideologies in order to comply with government regulations.

There were several limitations to our study. This study was limited to a subset of 15 countries, so the results must be interpreted with caution. We did not have an equal number of countries for each income category and countries have different population sizes, which may skew the results. However, we were still able to generate preliminary information that could be used in future studies. We also used Google Translate, so we might have incorrectly translated some posts. In addition, this study did not explore the individual-level factors of consumers—the personal characteristics of McDonald’s Instagram followers in the various countries (eg, age, household income), purchasing behaviours or consumption patterns resulting from following these McDonald’s accounts. As previously noted, these and other factors are core to the complex relationship between consumer demand and food companies. It will be important for future food marketing studies to effectively examine this complexity. These data also do not provide information on additional factors that may influence personal social media use, including age or household income. Such data are typically proprietary and expensive to obtain. Still, this study has several strengths. It is the first to provide an exploratory analysis of Instagram usage by McDonald’s, a single fast food company, in different countries of varying incomes. There are very few data examining the ways fast food companies may market products differently in other countries.

As the largest fast food franchise in the world, McDonald’s provides fast food to communities around the globe. As social media use grows, fast food companies’ social media ads may have unprecedented effects on dietary options, especially in lower-income countries. 15 By targeting certain subsets through child-targeted ads and price promotions, McDonald’s social media ads may exacerbate healthcare issues in the most vulnerable countries in the world. 1 26 These data support the growing need to address the globalisation of food and beverage marketing in developing countries that may experience higher burdens of poor diet, obesity and related illnesses. 1 26

Contributors: OC substantially contributed to the interpretation of data for the work, drafting and revising it critically for important intellectual content. HWS, ES, EJ, RH and CC substantially contributed to the acquisition and analysis for the work and drafting the work. RV and GO substantially contributed to the interpretation of data for the work and revising it critically for important intellectual content. MB substantially contributed to the conception and design of the work, interpretation of data for the work and revising it critically for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final version to be published and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Funding: This study was partially supported by NIH grant, DP5OD021373-01 (MB) and AHRQ grant, 1T32HS026120-01 (OC).

Disclaimer: The funding agencies did not have any role in the design, collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or in writing the manuscript.

Competing interests: None declared.

Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Author note: The authors wish to make it clear that so far as reference 11 is concerned, McDonald's was not one of the fast food companies that were specifically referred to in this article.

Supplemental material: This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

Data availability statement

Ethics statements, patient consent for publication.

Not applicable.

Michael A. Hartmann

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McDonald’s Ethical Challenges



The McDonald’s Corporation has been beleaguered for their questionable business practices and ethics. Opponents claim that the corporation aggressively advertises low nutritional food products to children. Challengers also claim that the food is also causes health problems for children and adults as well. These ethical issues have placed the corporation in the spotlight as a representative of fast food restaurant industry. McDonald’s has escaped civil lawsuits thus far. However, the company has been unable to break away from ongoing criticism concerning the integrity within its social responsibility practices.

Fast food restaurants have become a popular target of criticism by marketing opponents (Raeburn, 2002). Studies show that near half of the money spent on food by Americans is for eating out. This is estimated to generate over 100 billion dollars income each year for restaurants in the United States. These studies also further conclude that each day at least 25% of America visits a fast-food chain (Appleson, 2003). Fast food has also seen a rise in distribution in the public school system. In the mid 1990’s, 13% of schools served fast food in schools. This has been an issue with nutritionists because the fast food being served lacks the nutritional value that conventional school food does (Raeburn, 2002).

In recent years, The McDonald’s Corporation has been frequently challenged as the leading source of the controversy surrounding marketing food to children (Raeburn, 2002). The corporation reportedly spends two billion dollars each year on advertising. The company also targets children by using promotional tools such as toys, school programs, school team sponsorships, and figures such as Ronald McDonald (McSpotlight, n.d.). To their credit, McDonald’s raised an estimated $15-20 million in 2002 to sponsor World Children’s Day. This is in addition to the 300 million dollars raised to their Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The corporation claims that these funds are to improve the heath of children around the world (McDonald’s Corporation, 2002).

While their marketing techniques are being criticized, it is the lack of nutritional value that has generated most of the concerns. Fast food rarely meets USDA nutritional guidelines and is high in fats. Today’s super sized menu items have tripled the amount of calories in an order of french-fries that were ordered in the 1960’s (Raeburn, 2002). Typically a person could consume 900 calories in the super-sized soda and french-fries alone (Bird, 1998).

McDonald’s has defended these claims by launching a campaign that also uses information from health experts and nutritionist. McDonald’s has stated that eating habits are just a single element involved in obesity. They state that additional elements such as genetics, exercise, cultural issues, economic, and over-eating contribute to obesity as well. The corporation further states, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), that it is unhealthy to eliminate an individual’s favorite food from their diet (McDonald’s Corporation, n.d.). The company further claims, “Many nutrition professionals agree that McDonald’s food can be part of a healthy diet based on the sound nutrition principles of balance, variety and moderation (McDonald’s Corporation, p. 1). McDonald’s also states that there are heaps of alternative foods found in their menu such as salads (Raeburn, 2002). According to the fast food company, it has been providing nutritional information on their menu items for over 25 years (McDonald’s Corporation, n.d.). Under pressure, the company announced in 2002 that it was adding yogurt and a sweetened fruit menu for children. However McDonald’s opted not to accept any responsibility for health problems but to shift blame to other sources (Raeburn, 2002).

Furthermore, McDonald’s has designated a few restaurants to partnership with the Eat Well Play Hard (EWPH) program in New York State. The goals of the EWPH are to prevent obesity in children and reduce the likelihood of chronic diseases through a proper diet and exercise. EWPH selected McDonald’s because of their successful marketing strategies to children. Under a three month promotional period, McDonald’s offered an alternative Happy Meal Plus to the menu that was the same price as the standard Happy Meal. The Happy Meal Plus contained the same food as the Happy Meal but included a cup of fruit. The soda was replaced by the choice of a low-fat milk, low-fat chocolate milk or low-fat frozen yogurt parfait. The conventional Happy Meal toy was replaced with an item that would bring about a child to do physical activity such as a jump rope, Frisbee, or beach ball. Surveys given to the customers indicated that 90% thought that the Happy Meal Plus was pleasant and would purchase it again (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2002).

A landmark lawsuit filed against McDonald’s was dismissed in a US District Court in January 2003 (Appleson, 2003). A lawyer was suing on behalf of several teens that blame their obesity on food consumed from the franchise. The lawsuit further claimed that the company deliberately misled customers in regards to the nutritional value of their foods and did not warn customers of the health risks from eating them (BBC News, 2002). This case has been coined as the “McLibel” case (McSpotlight, n.d.). One of the plaintiffs was a 400 pound 15 year old boy that testified that he obtained diabetes and this weight gain because of the restaurant chain. The boy claimed that he ate at McDonald’s everyday since he was six (Appleson, 2003). His mother claimed that she had always believed that McDonald’s fast food was healthy for her son (BBC News, 2002).

The lawyer for McDonald’s claimed that the suit should be considered frivolous. He pointed out that McDonald’s has been providing data on their menu items to the public for many years. The lawyer went on to say that the fast food giant has nothing to hide and the public has a full understanding of the nutritional value of fast food (BBC News, 2002). The judge agreed with McDonald’s on these points and ruled that he did not find evidence that the company was intentionally misleading customers (Appleson, 2003).

Although the judge dismissed the case, he scolded the company on their cooking and processing methods. He further warned McDonald’s the plaintiffs could re-file their case if evidence can be obtained regarding the processing methods of their products (Appleson, 2003). Future lawsuits are expected and other fast food chains are concerned that if a lawsuit against McDonald’s similar to this is successful that they might also be held liable in future cases (BBC News, 2002). Other experts believe that the fast food companies should be partially held accountable for obesity and diabetes in the same fashion that cigarette companies were to nicotine addiction and lung cancer (Bird, 1998). Many nutritionists and attorneys believe that food companies should be held responsible for some of the estimated 117 billion dollars spent on obesity related illnesses (Raeburn, 2002).

In response to prevent a rash of lawsuits, the US Congress has introduced the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act. This legislation would limit lawsuits against restaurant chains to cases where the companies fail to meet regulatory requirements (Supermarket Guru, 2003).

False Advertising

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 30,000 or more premature heart disease deaths are caused each year by Trans Fatty Acids (TFA) from partially hydrogenated oils in our food supply. In response to these concerns, in September 2002, McDonald’s issued a Press Release that announced a significant reduction of TFAs with improved cooking oil. The new oil was said to reduce French fry TFA levels by 48%, reduce saturated fat by 16% and dramatically increase polyunsaturated fat by 167%. However McDonald’s never committed to the change. Later the company removed the September 2002 Press Release from its website and according to challengers, McDonald’s attempted to hide the existence of the declaration (PRWeb, 2004).

In January 2004,, Inc., A California non-profit organization filed a lawsuit against McDonalds Corporation for false advertising regarding its announcement they would implement a change to new cooking oil by February 2003. The plaintiffs claim that McDonald’s lied about this change, and they have not complied by the announcement. The plaintiffs’ further claim that McDonalds never made the change to the new cooking oil, and made no announcement to the public that they had not made this change. They accuse the company of false advertising, misleading the public and not taking the health of others seriously for profit. In the lawsuit, the accusers are asking for an order for McDonalds to inform the public about failure to use the cooking oil, with the same degree of publicity as they gave in September 2002. This lawsuit is still pending (PRWeb, 2004).

Super Size Me

McDonald’s has also received negative publicity about their food quality from filmmakers like Morgan Spurlock. Morgan Spurlock is an award-winning writer, director and producer. Spurlock directed a documentary about McDonalds that was entitled “Super Size Me.” During the making of the film, which is an examination of fast food and obesity in America, Spurlock subjected himself to a grueling, 30-day “McDonald’s only” diet to document the impact on his health. He started out at a healthy 185 pounds and had packed on 25 pounds by the end of the diet. Within a few days of launching his diet, Spurlock, was depicted as vomiting out the window of his car, and doctors who examined him were claimed to be shocked at how rapidly Spurlock’s entire body deteriorated. Moreover, it is professed that his liver became toxic, his cholesterol shot up from a low 165 to 230, and he stated that his libido declined and he suffered headaches and depression (Keppler Associates, 2004).

On March 3, 2004, McDonald’s announced that by the end of 2004, the Super size option will no longer be available in the United States apart from in certain promotions. The company claims that the option was eliminated as part of an endeavor to simplify its menu and give customers selections that support a balanced lifestyle. McDonald’s claimed that the Spurlock movie was not a factor in the menu change. A company spokesman rebuffed the movie and referred to the movie as “a super-sized distortion of the quality, choice and variety available at McDonald’s.” (CNN, 2004)

McDonald’s business ethics and integrity has come into the spotlight. The company has yet to demonstrate genuine endeavors to change their marketing techniques or their questionable food products. Although McDonald’s has escaped lawsuits in the past, however, they may be held liable for some of the health issues surrounding their products such as obesity and diabetes. The corporation consistently avoids any accountability and attempts to shift blame to other sources of unhealthy factors that contribute to diabetes and obesity. McDonald’s has to find a balance between attaining good profits and producing healthy food. Until then, the company must prove that they are indeed making changes and being perceived as being more socially responsible.

Appleson, G. (2003). Obesity suit against McDonald’s dismissed. Retrieved February 25, 2004, from’sdc.html BBC News (2002, November 22). McDonald’s targeted in obesity lawsuit. Retrieved February 27, 2004, from Childhood overweight – A public health issue. (2002, November). Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 11, S4-S5. Retrieved February 29, 2004, from InfoTrac database (Expanded Academic ASAP). CNN (2004). McSupersizes to be phased out. Retrieved March 3, 2004, from Keppler Associates (2004). Morgan Spurlock. Retrieved February 28, 2004, from McDonald’s Corporation (2002, May 13). Social Responsibility Report. Retrieved February 26, 2004, from http://www.McDonald’ McDonald’s Corporation (n.d.). Facts about overweight and obesity: What the experts say. Retrieved February 26, 2004, from http://www.McDonald’ McSpotlight (n.d.). Issues: Advertising. Retrieved February 28, 2004, from PRWeb (2004). McDonalds Exposed for False Advertising. Retrieved February 28, 2004, from Raeburn, P. (2002). Why we’re so fat; Fast food as school, huge portions, and relentless TV ads make it easy. Newsweek, 3804, 112. Retrieved February 28, 2004, from InfoTrac database (Expanded Academic ASAP). Supermarket Guru (2003, February 1). Obesity and Fast Food Lawsuits. Retrieved February 27, 2004, from


©2018 Michael A. Hartmann

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June 20, 2024 | Anna Zarra Aldrich, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources

Greening the Food Supply Chain: Developing Sustainable Food Systems through Interdisciplinary Collaboration

A recently published paper highlights the current state of sustainable food production research, from food nanotechnology to plant-based options and urban agriculture.

A picture of fresh vegetables. Food pantry clients say they want fresh fruits and vegetables, but that those aren't always available.

(Unsplash Photo/Sven Scheuermeier).

Sustainability is a hot topic in just about every field that engages with the environment, including agriculture.

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The group includes Yangchao Luo, associate professor of nutritional sciences; Zhenlei Xiao, associate professor-in-residence of nutritional sciences; and Abhinav Upadhyay, assistant professor of animal science. Bai Qu, Luo’s Ph.D. student, is the lead author on the paper.

Sustainable food production focuses on creating food systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially equitable.

“It focuses on the entire food supply chain, from farm to table, ensuring that each step is sustainable, minimizes waste, and reduces the carbon footprint,” Luo says.

The paper outlines the key features of sustainable food production including environmental stewardship, economic vitality, innovation and adaptation, and social responsibility.

The paper also reviews green technologies like urban agriculture, food nanotechnology, and plant-based foods, all of which play a role in reducing the negative impacts of food production.

“This is not a new concept, but I think with the development of emergent technology, a lot of things are going on now, it is very important to revisit this concept,” Luo says.

This publication provides a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective on the topic.

“Sustainable food production is a very collaborative topic,” Luo says. “You cannot do everything on your own.”

Sustainable food production encompasses the concept of a circular economy in which the waste from one process or product can be reused elsewhere.

“People have not cared about the waste generated, the impact to the environment, whether it’s sustainable or not,” Luo says. “People are pretty much profit driven. Now we have to change the whole concept or else the entire agricultural industry cannot be sustainable.”

This paper reflects the College and UConn’s broader commitment to sustainability, Luo explains.

“There’s many things in the College and at the University, campus-wide, that flow into this area that really inspire me to dive deeper into this topic,” Luo says.

Luo and Upadhyay are co-PIs on a $10 million grant from the USDA to study sustainable poultry production. The grant is led by Kumar Venkitanarayanan, associate dean of research and graduate education in CAHNR.

Luo, co-chair for CAHNR’s committee for sustainable agriculture and food production, is currently working with a group of students to develop an organic poultry feed additive made from microalgae.

“You cannot think about sustainable agriculture from a single discipline,” Luo says. “It has to be highly collective and collaborative from all three areas – society, environment, and community health. You have to connect all three angles together.”

This work relates to CAHNR’s Strategic Vision area focused on  Ensuring a Vibrant and Sustainable Agricultural Industry and Food Supply.

Follow  UConn CAHNR on social media.

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35 Facts About Saratov

Floris Rosenthal

Written by Floris Rosenthal

Modified & Updated: 25 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Saratov is a fascinating city located in southwestern Russia, nestled on the banks of the great Volga River. With a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, Saratov has become a popular destination for travelers from around the world. In this article, we will explore 35 fascinating facts about Saratov that will not only leave you in awe but also inspire you to add this amazing city to your travel bucket list. From its iconic landmarks and historical sites to its delicious cuisine and cultural festivals, Saratov has something to offer for every type of traveler. So, get ready to delve into the secrets of Saratov and discover why this dynamic city should be on your radar .

Key Takeaways:

  • Saratov, a city on the Volga River, offers a rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes. From its iconic bridge to vibrant festivals, Saratov has something for everyone to enjoy.
  • With its mix of historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and natural beauty, Saratov is a warm and welcoming city that captivates visitors and residents alike. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or nature lover, Saratov has it all!

Saratov is situated on the banks of the Volga River.

The city offers breathtaking views of the majestic Volga River, which is the longest river in Europe.

It was founded in 1590.

Saratov has a deep-rooted history that dates back to the 16th century when it was established as a fortress.

The name “Saratov” means “Yellow Mountain” in Tatar.

The city’s name is derived from the Tatar word “sary tau ,” which refers to the distinctive yellowish cliffs found in the area.

Saratov is the administrative center of Saratov Oblast.

As the capital of the Saratov region, the city plays a crucial role in the governance and economic development of the area.

It is often referred to as the “Gateway to Volga.”

Due to its strategic location on the Volga River, Saratov serves as a key transportation hub and a starting point for journeys along the waterway.

Saratov is home to over 800,000 inhabitants.

With a thriving population, the city boasts a diverse community with various cultural backgrounds and traditions.

The Saratov State University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Russia.

Established in 1909, the university has a rich academic history and offers a wide range of courses in various disciplines.

The historic Saratov Theater is a prominent cultural landmark.

This beautiful theater, founded in 1851, hosts a variety of performances, including ballet, opera, and drama.

Saratov is known for its beautiful architecture.

The city features a mix of architectural styles, including neoclassical, art nouveau, and Soviet-era buildings.

Saratov has a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters.

The city experiences distinct seasons, with temperatures ranging from hot and humid in the summer to freezing cold in the winter.

The Saratov Bridge is an iconic symbol of the city.

This impressive bridge spans the Volga River and offers stunning panoramic views of Saratov’s skyline.

Saratov is a significant industrial center.

The city is renowned for its manufacturing industries, including machinery, food processing, and chemicals.

The Victory Park in Saratov commemorates the heroism of World War II.

This sprawling park features monuments, memorials, and a museum dedicated to honoring the sacrifices made during the war.

Saratov is recognized for its strong sports culture.

The city has produced many talented athletes who have excelled in various sports, including ice hockey, football, and athletics.

The Saratov Art Museum showcases an extensive collection of Russian and European artwork.

Art enthusiasts can admire the masterpieces of renowned artists from different eras in this cultural gem .

Saratov is renowned for its festivals and cultural events.

The city hosts a myriad of celebrations throughout the year, including the Saratov Bridge Festival and the Saratov Jazz Festival.

Saratov is a major educational center.

In addition to Saratov State University, the city is home to numerous colleges, technical schools, and research institutes .

The Saratov Aviation Plant is one of the leading aircraft manufacturing facilities in Russia.

The plant has produced various aircraft, including the famous Antonov An-148 passenger jet.

Saratov is a popular destination for river cruises.

Tourists can embark on enchanting voyages along the Volga River, exploring the scenic beauty and historical sites along the way.

Saratov is a melting pot of cultures.

The city’s diverse population brings together different ethnic groups, contributing to a rich tapestry of traditions and heritage.

Saratov is famous for its delicious local cuisine.

Visitors can indulge in traditional dishes such as pelmeni (dumplings), borscht (beet soup), and blini (thin pancakes).

The Saratov Philharmonic Society is renowned for its exceptional musical performances.

Music lovers can enjoy classical concerts, chamber music recitals, and other enchanting performances at this esteemed institution.

Saratov is blessed with abundant natural beauty.

The city is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, including lush forests, rolling hills, and the serene Volga River.

Saratov has a rich literary heritage.

The city has been home to many notable writers , including Konstantin Simonov and Valentin Rasputin.

Saratov has a well-developed transportation infrastructure.

It is served by an extensive network of roads, railways, and an international airport, ensuring easy access to the city.

The Saratov Museum of Local Lore offers fascinating insights into the history and culture of the region.

Visitors can explore archaeological artifacts , ethnographic exhibits, and valuable historical documents.

Saratov is known for its vibrant nightlife.

The city offers a wide range of entertainment options, including bars, nightclubs , and live music venues.

Saratov is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

With its proximity to nature reserves and national parks, visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping.

Saratov is a center for space research and technology.

The city houses several scientific institutes and research centers dedicated to advancing space exploration.

Saratov has a strong tradition of chess.

The city has produced many talented chess players who have achieved international recognition.

The Saratov Puppet Theater delights audiences of all ages.

Featuring captivating puppet shows and performances, this theater is a must-visit for families.

Saratov is home to several beautiful parks and gardens.

Visitors can relax and enjoy the natural beauty in places such as Lipki Park and the Garden of Harmony.

Saratov hosts the annual Volga Fest, a vibrant celebration of local culture and traditions.

During this festival, the city comes alive with music, dance, art exhibitions, and traditional crafts.

Saratov has a thriving film industry.

The city has produced many acclaimed filmmakers and has a rich cinematic heritage.

Saratov offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere to both residents and visitors alike.

With its mix of historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and natural beauty, Saratov has something for everyone to enjoy.

These 35 facts about Saratov highlight the city’s historical significance, cultural heritage, and its role as a vibrant center of arts, education, and industry. Whether you are exploring the architectural wonders, immersing yourself in the local traditions, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty, Saratov is sure to captivate and leave a lasting impression.

Saratov is a fascinating city with a rich history, stunning architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene. From its picturesque waterfront to its historical landmarks, Saratov offers visitors a unique and immersive experience. Whether you’re interested in exploring its museums, enjoying its thriving food scene, or simply strolling through its charming streets, Saratov has something for everyone.

With its strategic location on the Volga River, Saratov has played a significant role in Russia’s history and continues to be an important hub for trade and transportation. Its diverse population and welcoming atmosphere make Saratov a destination worth visiting, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking to immerse yourself in a new and vibrant culture.

So, pack your bags and get ready to explore this hidden gem in Russia . Saratov will enchant you with its beauty, captivate you with its history, and leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

1. What is the best time to visit Saratov? The best time to visit Saratov is during the summer months of June to August when the weather is pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities.

2. How can I get to Saratov? Saratov has its own international airport, and you can also reach the city by train, bus, or car from other major cities in Russia.

3. What are some must-visit attractions in Saratov? Some must-visit attractions in Saratov include the Saratov Opera and Ballet Theatre, Radishchev Art Museum, Saratov Embankment, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

4. Is Saratov a safe city for tourists? Yes, Saratov is generally a safe city for tourists. However, it’s always recommended to practice common safety precautions such as avoiding walking alone at night and keeping an eye on your belongings.

5. What is the local cuisine like in Saratov? Saratov is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine. Some local dishes to try include borsch (traditional Russian soup), pirozhki (stuffed pastries), and pelmeni (dumplings).

6. Are there any natural attractions near Saratov? Yes, there are natural attractions near Saratov, including the Lipki Park and the picturesque Sokolovskaya Mountain offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

7. Can I explore Saratov on foot? Yes, Saratov is a walkable city, and many of its main attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, there are also public transportation options available for getting around the city.

8. Are there any festivals or events in Saratov? Saratov hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, including the Saratov Bridge Festival, Saratov Jazz Festival, and the Saratov Street Theater Festival. Check the local event calendar for the specific dates of these events.

9. Are there any accommodation options in Saratov? Yes, there are plenty of accommodation options in Saratov, ranging from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts and cozy guesthouses.

10. Can I visit Saratov as a day trip from Moscow? While Saratov is located around 800 kilometers southeast of Moscow, it is possible to visit the city as a day trip. However, it is recommended to plan a longer stay to fully explore and appreciate all that Saratov has to offer.

Saratov's enchanting charm extends beyond its city limits. Uncover more fascinating facts about the mighty Volga River , which flows through Saratov and shapes its landscape. Explore the hidden gems of other captivating Russian cities , each with its unique history and cultural treasures. Delve into the intriguing world of Engels , a city closely intertwined with Saratov's past and present. Embark on a journey of discovery as you unravel the secrets and stories that make these places truly extraordinary.

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  • DOI: 10.3103/s1068373923090108
  • Corpus ID: 266641234

Assessment of Agricultural Production Risks in the Saratov Oblast against the Background of Observed Climate Change

  • S. V. Morozova , E. A. Polyanskaya , M. Alimpieva
  • Published in Russian Meteorology and… 1 September 2023
  • Environmental Science, Agricultural and Food Sciences, Geography

4 References

Peculiarities of the temperature and humidity regime of the right bank of the saratov region against the background of global climate trends, peculiarities of the global climate tendencies in the south-east russian plains, characterizing the temperature and humidity regime of the left bank of the saratov region against the background of the second wave of global warming, variability of the circulation processes in the lower volga region on the background of global climate trends, related papers.

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