Fast-food companies buying into healthier side

Jodi - posted on 01/15/2011 ( 42 moms have responded )

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JUNK-FOOD companies are making customers fat then selling them the cure, according to health experts. They claim that deals between producers of junk foods and slimming groups and health charities are allowing the industry to cash in on both ends of the obesity epidemic.

Partnerships between KFC and the McGrath Foundation, Nestle and Jenny Craig, McDonald's and Weight Watchers, and Domino's Pizza and weight-loss show The Biggest Loser are among those criticised for trying to make brands that are famous for selling burgers, fries and lollies appear more healthy.

The companies rejected the claims, telling The Sunday Age that the associations are about offering healthier choices and a genuine attempt to be part of the obesity solution.

Advertisement: Story continues below But Jane Martin, from the Obesity Policy Coalition, said it was part of a broader plan by junk-food companies to buy influence and dampen support for government regulation or taxes on unhealthy food.

''What we're seeing is the careful execution of strategies by processed food manufacturers to ensure a long-term future. They're broadening their coverage by selling consumers the problem and then also being on hand to sell them the solution. It is also enabling them to buy their way into policy discussions,'' she said.

Ms Martin dubbed the practice ''weightwashing'' - a tactic to persuade consumers that the industry was responding to the obesity epidemic, in the same way that ''greenwashing'' allowed businesses to appear environmentally responsible.

''Junk-food manufacturers are at the forefront of this strategy, which is similar to what we have already seen adopted by the tobacco and oil industries. It gives them the veneer of corporate social responsibility,'' she said.

During the Sydney cricket test this month, the McGrath Foundation linked up with KFC, which donated $1 from every ''pink bucket'' of deep-fried chicken to the breast cancer charity.

Leading nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said these sorts of deals toyed with the public's emotions because people wanted to support a worthy cause.

''It's a very strange association when we know that certain types of breast cancer, particularly in post-menopausal women, are very strongly related to a high intake of fat, and obesity - both of which get a hefty contribution from fast foods'' she said. ''These companies are not interested in health, they're interested in marketing and selling more product.''

In a statement, the McGrath Foundation said the ''corporate friendship'' was initiated by KFC and was integral to the funding of breast-cancer-care nurses. While supporting consumer choice, the foundation did not recommend anyone overindulge in any one product.

KFC Australia spokesman Zac Rich said the partnership would result in $100,000 for the foundation and was about supporting families experiencing breast cancer. Ms Martin said approaches from major processed food companies were hard to resist, as they had deep pockets.

''KFC would have gone out fairly aggressively to develop that relationship [with the McGrath Foundation] and it's just not the sort of thing the apple growers or the mushroom growers or the avocado growers are going to have the profile or the money to do.''

She warned that those relationships could come at a cost, citing a recent backflip by Save the Children in their American campaign to tax soft drinks at the same time as the charity was seeking a major grant from Coca-Cola.

Nestle's corporate affairs manager Fran Hernon said claims that the global food giant's takeover of weight-loss company Jenny Craig this month was an attempt to buy its way into health policy discussions, as ''a complete misrepresentation of our business''.

She said Nestle had a long-term commitment to nutrition, health and wellness.

Jenny Craig managing director Amy Smith also defended the deal. ''Nestle have made Lean Cuisine and low-fat yoghurts forever. It's oversimplifying it just to say there's a conspiracy going on,'' she said.

''The biggest issue that people just do not want to address is lifestyle change. If you look at the reasons why people are gaining so much weight, it comes from a lot more than soft drink and chocolate.''

In March last year, McDonald's New Zealand began selling three meals approved by Weight Watchers. A spokeswoman said there were no plans for such a deal in Australia.

A Channel Ten spokeswoman would not comment on why last year's sponsorship deal between The Biggest Loser and the Good Choice range of Domino's Pizzas was not renewed for the 2011 series.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/fastfo...

So, are these companies really as altruistic as they make out to be, or is it simply clever marketing? Are they needing to pay more attention to the foods they are serving in order to survive in the future, given the amount of publicity there has been about the "obesity epidemic" and the contribution of fast food? Your thoughts?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Cassie - posted on 01/16/2011

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In regards to McD's donating money, have you ever read the fine print at the bottom of the screen? They make it seem that they are donating a good amount from each happy meal purchase so it does pull on your heart strings but... they donate one penny for each happy meal. One penny!! Now I realize they sell millions of happy meals every year, if not billions, so those pennies would add up, but one penny, the commercial is really deceiving.

Kate CP - posted on 01/16/2011

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Jodi: High-calorie dressing, croutons, cheese, and other things like sesame seeds are often included in the salads. People don't realize how high in fat and calories croutons are. :/

Iris - posted on 01/16/2011

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My daughter, 6th grader:"Ronald McDonald came to our cafeteria promoting McDonald healthy food. Yeah right, does he think I'm stupid??" Love my girl :)



Anyways, of course they are all jumping on the "health wagon". More and more people are starting to be aware of what they eat. More documentaries out there, more awerness. They are losing costumers because of it so they have to go "healthy".



For me. They need to pay more for better quality food before I/my family become a regular. But then again, I rather use that money on Whole Foods.

Kate CP - posted on 01/16/2011

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Of course it's a grab for money. People go to McDonald's for a burger and fries not a low-carb, low-fat meal on wheels. This is the only way McDonald's and other fast food chains can hold on to their slipping numbers because people are being forced to change their diets.

Jenn - posted on 01/16/2011

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I think it's a mix of good intentions and making money. They are a business and of course want to make money, but I'm sure there's a hint of actual good intentions somewhere in there - there are real people running these corporations and they have a heart just like anyone else.

@Barb - how would a vegan eat cheese?

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Jenn - posted on 01/17/2011

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Well, 750 calories really isn't that bad for a meal. Think of someone who eats only 3 meals a day - to have that as one of your meals is actually pretty good, especially considering that it's from a fast food place. And that's the highest calorie one - the other ones are lower and like I said - skip the dressing and that 750 calorie salad is now only 550 calories. Not bad at all IMO. And I see commercials for their salads all the time - they are huge like a meal. I think they do also have side salads available - or they used to anyway - but these ones are meant to be a full meal. And Emma, I think you're confused because you don't have Wendy's in Australia like what we have here - it's like another McDonald's or Burger King.

[deleted account]

Well i wouldn't eat a meal that is 750 calories and as filling as a salad. A salad to me is a snack, i dont know what wendys salads are like though. I've never eaten one in my life, i dont think i ever caught a commercial about them either. Still 750 calories is a lot for a meal, i eat small frequent meals though. So i guess thats why it seems too much to me.

Jenn - posted on 01/16/2011

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Oh - that makes sense LOL! Sorry - don't mean to laugh about the floods. :(

Stifler's - posted on 01/16/2011

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There was a flood lol now all the supermarkets are sold out of everything all the time. Fresh veggies being the main thing they don't have.

Jenn - posted on 01/16/2011

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Yes, you can ask them to make you a salad the way you like without the extras that add all of the extra calories - and you could also use only 1 package of dressing or none at all which would save you about 200 calories alone. And a Wendy's salad is not meant to be a side dish - it's a meal.

@Emma - are you serious? You don't have lettuce in the supermarket? We have year round - iceberg, romaine, leaf (red and green), spring mix, spinach, and I'm sure there's more types that I'm forgetting.

Kate CP - posted on 01/16/2011

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My favorite salad is green spinach and baby romaine with red onions and smoked salmon and a raspberry vinaigrette. GOD it's good.

Stifler's - posted on 01/16/2011

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I can't remember the last time there was lettuce in the supermarket!

Krista - posted on 01/16/2011

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Emma Nielson - posted 10 hours ago
.There's been rumours for years that once you're on Jenny Craig you never get off because they put drugs in the food. LOL!

Kirstie Alley must have missed this memo. :p

Krista - posted on 01/16/2011

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Well, I suppose when you account for the fact that there's a chicken breast on top it would eat like a meal. Wendy's salads actually DO eat like a meal and it's enough for a dinner. That's actually what I had for dinner tonight. Chicken breast and salad. It was delicious. Now that I know it's not as bad as I thought, I'll go back to eating salads at Wendy's! :D

[deleted account]

salad is one of my favorite quickies. i eat them all the time. of course i only eat vegetables...so that is expected :D
750 is a lot of calories for one salad, especially when they are side dishes. That would be an entire meals worth of calories, if i ate just a salad for supper, i would most definitely be hungry later and end up over eating.

Krista - posted on 01/16/2011

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Oh... I see where I went wrong on the nutrition menu. I didn't delete the first salad in the drop down menu and it added to the second.

I still wonder if you can remove certain things....

Krista - posted on 01/16/2011

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I stand corrected. The salads are up to 750, but that is A LOT of calories for a salad. Can you get a Wendy's salad prepared the way you like it? I'm not sure.

Jenn - posted on 01/16/2011

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The salads do NOT have that many calories - they range from 580 - 750 - and that's with all of the toppings on it and 2 packages of dressing.

Jodi - posted on 01/16/2011

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Really? We eat salads all the time. Especially at the moment being summer. It's too hot to cook inside, so BBQ & salad is the norm around here at the moment :)

Jodi - posted on 01/16/2011

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"1600 to 2000 calories per salad. REALLY?! For a salad?!?! "

What the heck has that salad got in it????

Stifler's - posted on 01/16/2011

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I don't really mind though. They're a business not a charity. We know they're there to make money over charging for fries and post mix coke. I don't like the way they have healthy stuff, none of it is even that healthy. People have become misguided on portion sizes and what is and isn't healthy because of it.

Lady Heather - posted on 01/16/2011

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I very much doubt there is anything altruistic going on here at all. "Healthy" sells. It's all processed junk though, so the consuming public loses again. I'm not saying I've never eaten fast food or anything processed. Sometimes options are limited, especially when we're on road trips. I think the problem is that these foods get labeled as "healthy" so people think they can eat them all the time. How many of these items do you suppose are full of chemicals and colourings and salt? You take away fat, you have to add something to make it taste good. Methinks it's not fresh herbs if it's McDs.

Krista - posted on 01/16/2011

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@Sara.........the Happy Meals have always gone to support the Ronald McDonald house charities. There's no change in the fact that they donate per meal.

@Cassie........here in Canada, they donate 10 cents from every Happy Meal to the charity.

@Barb..... have you ever seen the sodium content in a Weight Watchers meal or soup? Trust me, sodium is NOT something they're worried about, but they should be.

And just to top this off............you can't GO vegan at McD's. The buns are grilled on the same grill as the meat. Even places like A&W who have a veggie burger grill on the same grill as the meat.

Anyone who is vegetarian or vegan and is Canadian please note that Kelsey's also does this.

Krista - posted on 01/16/2011

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Kati.......they sure do have good intentions........of making good money. If their intentions were purely altruistic, they would have had a healthier menu all along.

I'd also just like to say that Wendy's salads (not sure if this was discussed) are rought 1600 to 2000 calories per salad. REALLY?! For a salad?!?!

Isobel - posted on 01/16/2011

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I'm sorry...but there are no good intentions. Brilliant strategic move though.

Rosie - posted on 01/16/2011

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i think they have good intentions, and are also out for money! but if they really had good intentions they would try to make their meals alot healthier.

Barb - posted on 01/16/2011

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I liked that discussion on the "love your body" forum about the difference between Jenny Craig and weight watchers, a bit off topic i know, but it was interesting to see the difference.

Stifler's - posted on 01/16/2011

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There's been rumours for years that once you're on Jenny Craig you never get off because they put drugs in the food. LOL!

Jenn - posted on 01/16/2011

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Gotcha. ;) Hey, I love eating a cheeseburger with no burger! Bun, cheese, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. YUM!



*edited to add - this would be made at home with real cheese - to use "fake" cheese from a fast food place might make me want to hurl.

Barb - posted on 01/16/2011

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i don't know Jenn, i'm not Vegan, maybe she's just vegetarian and just doesn't eat meat? i don't know all their in's and out's, i just recall the story my friend was telling me about the funny looks her daughter got for ordering a cheeseburger sans the meat.

Barb - posted on 01/16/2011

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I'd be happier if it was an equal merger or if weight watchers was taking over Mc Donalds. It makes me wonder who is going to be in charge.

Does this mean that they will now say it's acceptable to have larger amounts of fat, sodium, sugar and carbs in your diet? or are they going to offer the real health solutions that were there before the take over?

I have a friend who raised her daughter with a vegan diet. She would go to mc donalds with her friends and order a cheeseburger without the meat. LOL So no, i think you can teach your children proper nutrition and they will make the right choices.

Jodi - posted on 01/16/2011

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"Lets face it how many kids go into mcdonalds and buy a salad!"

Believe it or not, Louise, my 5 year old actually opts to order a grilled chicken wrap (it is basically a mini tortilla with grilled chicken breast (no skin) and salad. She asks for no dressing, apple slices and water. It surprises me, but I am pretty happy that this is her choice, LOL.

Louise - posted on 01/16/2011

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Lets face it how many kids go into mcdonalds and buy a salad! But us mums give them cash to go in and eat what they want. I think this is clever marketing but at the end of the day kids will eat junk if they are left to choose food for themselves.

Stifler's - posted on 01/15/2011

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This is very sneaky!! But I do love KFC and Maccas food. In moderation.

[deleted account]

I don't think any of these companies are acting on good will. They know what sells. Right now "healthy" is in. "Charity" is in. They are selling both. I think the last explosive debate we had on suing McD's proved that this type of marketing works.

McDonald's recently starting airing commercials saying they will donate a portion of their profit to St. Jude's Children's Hospital from every Happy Meal sold. It pulls on heartstrings. Personally, I'd rather just write a check directly to St. Jude. If McD's really cared about the health of children, would they be selling Happy Meals at all? But I guess the donations from McD's are great for the hospital, so it's not all evil.

Oh, and I happen to really like fast food. And Eliza loves McD's chicken nuggets.

Tara - posted on 01/15/2011

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Very interesting and very smart on the part of the fast food giants, good for the public? I don't think so. But good for the capitalists? Yes.
Nestle drives me nuts. Look into Nestle and privatization of water. They are one the worst corporate offenders in my books. Now to add... this... shame.

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