Fast-food meal deal slammed

BY JESSICA SUTTON
Last updated 11:00 04/03/2010

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Palmerston North dietician Gaye Philpott says endorsing McDonald's meals doesn't bother her as WeightWatcher's points system doesn't work.

After yesterday's partnership announcement between WeightWatchers and McDonald's New Zealand, the Filet-O-Fish burger, Chicken McNuggets and a sweet chilli seared chicken wrap meal are designated as healthy options.

Weight Watchers uses a points-based system to help people lose weight. The McDonald's meal options are worth 6.5 points each, but dieticians and nutritionists nationwide are sceptical.

Mrs Philpott said that she was aware McDonald's had been trying to create a healthier image, but she did not advocate or recommend eating fast food.

"When people see WeightWatchers products they automatically think they are healthy options and now they will think McDonald's is too."

She said she did not believe in WeightWatcher's point system.

"It doesn't teach people properly about portion sizes or the sodium, sugar or other content information. WeightWatcher's points system doesn't really generate a healthy food choice," she said. Promoting McDonald's meals as "healthy", she said, would encourage people to skimp on healthy foods during the day so they can afford unhealthy choices later.

Other nutritionists and dieticians suggest the partnership is a marketing ploy to lure people into the restaurant.

McDonald's New Zealand managing director Mark Hawthorne said the partnership was a reflection of the work it had put into changing the face of the business and menu.

"We are able to include some of our most popular items because of the many changes we have made over the years. For instance, the switch to a healthier canola blend cooking oil means menu items such as the Filet-O-Fish and Chicken McNuggets contain 60 per cent less saturated fat than they did six years ago," he said.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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