Here’s the oddest bit of nutrition news I’ve heard lately: Weight Watchers has approved three McDonald’s menu items , including Chicken McNuggets, as part of its diet plan in New Zealand.
Weight Watchers will now endorse specific McDonald’s meals, and in return the restaurant will display the Weight Watchers logo on its menu boards.
Baffled? Outraged? Many health experts are, too. In its press releases, Weight Watchers defends the partnership, insisting that even fast food can be part of a healthy weight-loss plan if calories are kept to a reasonable level.
No plans have yet been announced to bring the arrangement to the American market.
To me, this bizarro arrangement between the world’s largest fast-food chain and the world’s largest weight-loss organization represents a case of nutritionism gone amok. Nutritionism, if you’re unfamiliar with the word, is a term used by author Michael Pollan to describe the belief that if a food is low-calorie or vitamin-fortified, then it must be good for you, no matter how processed and chemical-laden. Of course, nutritionism is Weight Watchers’ approach in a nutshell. Under the classic Weight Watchers plan, the number of “points” a food contains is more important than what’s actually in the food.
I suspect the diet industry and the processed food industry may be coordinating their efforts in order to keep consumers enslaved to both their product lines.
Okay, I’m sort of joking, but not entirely. If Weight Watchers really wanted people to adopt healthy eating habits, they’d tell them to avoid chain restaurants altogether. Because no matter how you crunch the data, McNuggets are not healthy. For that matter, as long as you’re at McDonald’s, why stop at McNuggets? Why not throw in fries and a large soft drink? After all, a calorie is a calorie, no matter where it comes from, right?
Sorry, but I’ll believe McDonald’s promotes weight loss when you convince me tobacco companies don’t want kids to smoke.