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McDonald's eyes gyms for kids

UPI News Service, 12/04/2006 

Restaurant chain McDonald's, based in Oakbrook, Ill., has been considering replacing its PlayPlace indoor playgrounds with gyms for children.

The R-Gyms, named for the chain's mascot, Ronald McDonald, would include stationary exercise bikes, rope climbing and other aerobic exercise activities to help children burn off their Happy Meals, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

Prototype R-Gyms are in use in Woodridge, Ill., Chillicothe, Ill., and locations in Oklahoma, California and Colorado.

"The intent is to provide games that allow children to use their imagination in an active lifestyle," said William Whitman, a McDonald's spokesman. "This is a continuation of what we have been doing for more than 20 years with the PlayPlace, providing a safe place where children can come and have fun."

However, Susan Linn, a psychologist at the Harvard Medical School and the co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, criticized the gyms as an attempt to make the restaurant look like it is tackling the issue of childhood obesity while avoiding the real problem.

"What McDonald's needs to do is stop marketing junk food to children and stop sending Ronald McDonald into schools," she said.

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Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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