Thursday, March 18, 2010

The McDonald's/Weight Watchers Debate

First, the workout - ran 5 miles in the park again this morning. Started at my usual spot but went south and took the loop clockwise. I run the park roads so often throughout the year that I'm convinced I could do it in my sleep. Anytime someone runs the same route enough, the body gets used to the ups and downs, the turns and knows what is coming next so it's always good to mix things up a bit. Felt pretty good but my legs did feel a little bit tight this morning, and I'm not really sure why. Tomorrow is a rest day but I plan to run 6.5mi or so on Saturday.

Leave a note if you're running in the NYC Half this Sunday or, any race for that matter!

Did you hear yesterday about the new partnership Weight Watchers has struck with McDonald's in New Zealand to endorse three of their menu items that, along with a side salad and water or soft drink, come in at 6.5 points (WW counts points per day rather than calories). The menu items included at the onset of the promotion are Chicken McNuggets, the Filet-O-Fish, and the Sweet Chilli Seared Chicken Wrap.

My first reaction was: "What in the world are they thinking!?!" But then, I took a breath and realized that this is very similar to associations WW already has with restaurant chains (Applebee's) here in the US and Great Britain.

Personally, I owe a lot to WW and their approach to weight loss. Someone extremely close to me lost a great deal of weight by going to meetings and changing her life on the program. She has kept the weight off, is no longer tethered to blood pressure medication, and is able to walk around the city with me when she comes to visit (something she never would have been able to do otherwise). She has also taught me a lot of great tips that I have incorporated into my eating habits.

The thing that worries me about WW is how far they have strayed from their core business the past few years. I don't blame them for wanting to earn more profits but I do think that if their real concern is the health and wellbeing of their clients, they need to think about what types of food they are actually promoting. Chicken McNuggets are not healthy. Yes, they may fit within the 6.5 points for the meal, but take a look at this below - straight from McDonald's website, the ingredients for McNuggets:

Chicken McNuggets®:

White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

How can this possibly be part of a healthy diet? But then head to your local grocery store and you're likely to run into a whole product line from WW including yogurt, bread, ice cream, snacks and candies and frozen meals. Most of these products are highly processed with unpronouncable ingredients. I understand that many people starting a new weight loss plan need to take it one step at a time and these products may help them do that, but my concern is that some people, especially those who are not necessarily WW members, will see their logo and assume that the associated food item is healthy to eat. Why not put their logo on one of the healthier salad options? Or, why promote food items that can even spark a debate of whether or not it is actually food? I do think that WW helps a lot of people and that the basic plan is one that people can really follow for a lifetime, but I think they need to take a second look at their new business ventures and make sure they really help to create overall health and not just a lower number on a scale.

What do you think about this?

Need a snack? Eat a banana!
Workout Stats:
5mi run


Robyn said...

Totally agree about WW. It's missing the principle now that even though you can eat anything in moderation with their diet, you should still strive for nutritious items that give you more bang for your buck. McNuggets certainly would not fall in that category!

Morgan said...

You're right, my body has my routes memorized!

As for WW & McD's... wow. That's all I will say. And on that note I will in fact go eat a banana.

Chris from Beyond Defeat will be running the Half and going for a PR. Go wish him luck!

Chelle said...

Personally anything that comes from the Golden Arches is FAR from healthy in my book. I just don't see McD's changing their ways for the greater good.

Stopping by from SITS

Katie @ Health for the Whole Self said...

Great post! I definitely feel a bit uneasy about the WW-McDonald's partnership. Just seems like such a conflict of interest. I realize that some people can't swear off fast food entirely, but it seems to me like now WW will actually be encouraging members to eat at McDonald's...It's like you said, if the motivation is really to GET HEALTHY, then how can you justify encouraging people to eat things that, essentially, are not FOOD!

Barbara said...

Actually , as the one who lost 60 lbs over 7 years ago , we do talk about good , healthy nutrition all the time. They do stress vegetables , fruits , healthy whole grain , that read whole wheat , not enriched wheat flour , etc. all the time. The deal with the ww endorsement is simple. We're real people who will eat real food in lots of venues. There are other choices at Mac's. I get the grilled chicken , no mayo , take , yes , take my own low calorie whole grain bread with me , that and a side salad and yes , a diet drink , are fine. I love their drive thru when running errands. I get the apple dippers without the carmel and a diet. I know people who get the walnuts , yogurt and apple item. WW's whole point is , you can make any venue fits your needs. I would think it could be seen as an effort to help people in an obese world. So what if we aren't paragons of food virtue ? Who is every day ? I would not even begin to guess how many livews ww has changed and saved, mine included. We learn about stress eating , bordom eating , making good choices. I knew all those things . I still do these things , but I know how to make up for it in a healthy way. I would have told you 2 weeks before I started ww that it was nuts. No , I've seen it make huge differences in the lives and health of people. So , 3 cheers for ww and Macs. It isn't perfect , but what is ? There are always many views of every news item. Thanks for letting me get on a soap box.

TallGuySurfing said...

Dude! I saw the pic of a banana in my reader and I actually had a craving for one before I read your post! Then I saw the mention of chicken nuggets and almost barfed! If you asked me what I thought was one of the most "processed" foods chicken nuggest would probably come to mind! I'm not even sure if they are really food! LOL.... although I did eat them as a kid! My gf and I will be running two races this weekend in one day! Happy trails!

Lisa said...

Eek! That banana picture looks REALLY yellow! It was actually really good though. I promise!

Thanks for all the great comments. It's good to hear all sides and opinions.

Alisa said...

mmmm banana!

baker said...

hey! thanx for poppin over! where will you be on sunday?
oh, and i cant live without a daily banana!

Anonymous said...

I also owe a hefty weight loss to WW and even worked for the company for a couple of years. I totally get that it's possible to include fast food (or whatever indulgence people might want to have) as part of an overall nutritionally responsible diet, and I'm sure that leaders in meeting rooms will talk about the McD's partnership in the context of moderation, taking responsibility for your own food choices, etc. I'm also sure that most WW members probably understand this as well.

I think my main issue with this lies with what it says to the general public. One of the most important things WW taught me is how to be an informed food consumer. Figuring out what's what and separating valid health/nutrition claims from invalid is hard enough (it's been five years since I started WW, and I *still* have to work at it sometimes), and this only obscures things further for some people.

So, yes. In theory, everyone should be able to put the pieces together and realize that McD's isn't "healthy" and is really a once-in-awhile food, but I'm not confident that's always the case.