Fat Food Nation: McDonald’s Pricing Encourages Poor Nutritional Choice

Fat Food Nation: McDonald's Pricing Encourages Poor Nutritional Choice


At first it seemed a small thing, only a $0.19 difference, but then I realized how it had affected my thinking and had almost affected my choice.  $0.19 was the price difference between a McDouble and a hamburger at McDonalds.  The hamburger was the more expensive choice.  And, if only the drive thru attendant had answered my call to switch to a McDouble, I would have saved $0.19 but made a poor nutritional choice.

So, I wrote an email to McDonalds and received both a phone call and an email back.

Here’s my email, sent on 3/6/2013 to McDonald’s (through the contact form at the McDonald’s website):

McDonald’s appears to be promoting unhealthy food choices at some of it’s restaurants, enticing people to chose a nutritionally worse option by having artificially lower prices.

Yesterday, when I went through the drive through at the Rogers, MN restaurant, I ordered a hamburger and then I saw the total pop up. I was shocked that a hamburger is more expensive than a McDouble. Why is a regular hamburger $1.19 and a McDouble only $1?   

I attempted to get the drive thru attendant again on the intercom, so that I could ask if I could have a McDouble, because it was less expensive.  Later, as I was eating my hamburger, I realized it was fortunate she did not answer.

I know that the McDouble is on the dollar menu, but it seems wrong for at least a couple of reasons that it is less expensive than a hamburger:  1.  You get so much less with a hamburger–one less beef patty and no cheese.  2. hamburgers are also healthier.  A hamburger is only 250 calories with 32% of calories from fat.  A McDouble  is 390 calories with 44% of calories coming from fat.

McDonald’s is contributing to the obesity epidemic by encouraging people to make poor food choices.  I have been to other McDonald’s restaurants where a hamburger is $.89, which seems more logical (and sends the right message).

A few hour later, I received a call from the store manager. She agreed with me, but really couldn’t do anything about it, other than pass the info on to the store owner. Oh, yeah, and send me a coupon for a free meal . . .

Then, the next day (3/8/2013) I received an email response from a McDonald’s customer service rep:

Hello Diane:

I want to thank you for taking the time to share your recent experience at the McDonald’s in Rogers, MN with me. Your feedback is very important to us as it allows us to better understand how we can improve our service to you.

I am sorry for your dissatisfaction with the prices charged by the franchisee of the restaurant you visited. Please be assured that we want to provide you with an exceptional experience every time you visit us. From your email, it is clear we did not meet your expectations. Again, I am truly sorry we disappointed you.

I want you to know that I have already taken action on your feedback. After reading your email, I immediately shared the information you brought to our attention with the local franchise owner of the restaurant you visited. Additionally, customer feedback is reviewed with our regional McDonald’s consultants as part of our ongoing commitment to improving our restaurants’ operations.

 McDonald’s cares about the health and well being of its customers. We’re working to help people understand how to achieve a balance between food eaten and physical activity. It is not simply a result of consuming too many calories — it is equally the result of burning too few. McDonald’s offers a variety of great tasting, quality food choices in a number of serving sizes to fit many nutrition needs. McDonald’s strives to help its customers make informed food choices, by offering nutrition information in a variety of different ways: nutritional facts brochures in the restaurant, www.mcdonalds.com website, on the reverse side of trayliners, on select packaging, our toll-free number, 800-244-6227, our mobile application and our menu boards. 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.

Health and nutrition experts from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics agree that many factors contribute to over weight and obesity. The causes are complex and may include excess food consumption, lack of physical activity and today’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle, just to name a few.

As mentioned, McDonald’s offers nutrition information for its standard menu items. For questions about the nutrition value of standard menu items, please visit the website at www.mcdonalds.com or call the toll-free number at 800-244-6227.

Again, Diane, thank you for sharing your feedback. We appreciate your business and we hope to have the pleasure of serving you soon.


McDonald’s Customer Response Center

Kudos to McDonald’s for quick customer response, but does anyone else see a problem with pricing a hamburger higher than a McDouble?



About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

One Response to Fat Food Nation: McDonald’s Pricing Encourages Poor Nutritional Choice

  1. The thing on the left is a Daily Double. In Oregon, it’s $1.99
    The McDouble is $1.00 as well as the Hamburger where I work.

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