A group of UVM students recently joined a national campaign to retire McDonald’s world-renowned, red-haired spokesman.Corporate Accountability International (CAI), an organization that has waged campaigns against bottled water companies and tobacco companies — responsible for the retirement of Joe Camel — started the campaign against Ronald McDonald because of what they are calling a fast food industry childhood obesity crisis.Sophomore nutrition major Marie Limoges said they discussed the connection between Ronald McDonald and obesity in one of her classes.”I watched a video in my obesity class where kids were shown logos for fast food chains,” she said. “Typically, only one or two identified with each, but they all knew exactly who Ronald McDonald was and what he represented.”The CAI website describes Ronald as a simple and ingenious strategy designed to build brand loyalty among children and create customers for life.UVM students joined the national campaign by asking people on campus to sign a petition and take pictures holding posters pleading for Ronald to step down.The pictures were then pooled with those from around the country and sent out with the intention to flood McDonald’s inbox with photos calling for the clown’s retirement.”First of all, he’s an extremely creepy character once you’re over 10 years old,” first year Elise Gloeckner said after her picture had been taken in support of the movement. “But those first 10 years are what’s being targeted and it’s time for Ronald McDonald to be dropped.”With the kickoff of this national campaign, the McDonald’s fast food industry released a written statement to the press.It stated that Ronald helps deliver messages to families on many important subjects such as safety and literacy, and that he actually promotes the importance of physical activity and making balanced food choices.According to RetireRonald.org, since the unveiling of Ronald McDonald, obesity rates have more than tripled among American children and the amount of diet-related conditions like Type 2 Diabetes has skyrocketed.”This clown is no friend to our children or their health,” Deborah Lapidus of Corporate Accountability International said. “He is a deep-fried Joe Camel for the 21st century.”There is no news on whether McDonald’s is considering Ronald’s retirement but even if the campaign is successful, a lingering question remains: If the clown steps down, will obesity rates actually begin to decrease among children?”Health does not come first for a lot of people,” Limoges said. “We want things cheap and fast, this is the real problem.””Ronald’s retirement will help with the problem, but parents also need to step it up and discourage their children from eating at places like McDonald’s in the first place,” She said.RetireRonald.org is still asking for supporters to sign the petition and to submit a photo, hoping that this will be one small step in the fight against obesity.