Public outrage in schools over nutrition because one blogger you don’t upset is Bettina Siegel. She’s awesome…and an attorney by trade.
Bettina is the creator of the blog The Lunch Tray, which focuses on “kids and food, in school and out.” And as of recently, she’s been quite a thorn in the side of McDonalds.
McDonalds 540 Meals Documentary & “Educational” Campaign for Kids due to public outrage
McDonalds created a “educational campaign” about counting calories and how McDonalds can be part of a healthy lifestyle. And they used an Iowa high school teacher who lost 37 lbs. eating McDonalds to tell that story. Bettina Siegel got wind of this right away when they tried to implement the campaign in her local school district. She was concerned to say the least and launched a change.org petition against the whole campaign, leading to public outrage
Her latest post about the journey to stop “540 Meals” from being shown in public schools came after McDonald’s sent a copy to screen, hoping it would be accepted in Houston. Last October she wrote an expose condemning the film as advertising for McDonald’s under a guise as nutritional education.
The film documents an experiment by a Iowa high school teacher where his students planned meals for him from McDonald’s for 6 months, working with a 2000 calorie and 15 nutrient meal plan using the USDA’s Daily Value index for guidance.
Bettina’s change.org petition was victorious after collecting signatures from people concerned about the films being shown in schools and teachers using the supplemental resources in class. McDonalds has silently pulled their campaign from public schools due to this public outrage.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Lurking in McDonald’s Packaging
We love that people are watching what they eat, however, the diet created by Cisna according to the USDA dietary recommendations was hardly healthy due to a lack of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and some nutrients. But that isn’t even the worst of it. Fast food wrappers at McDonalds are full of endocrine disrupting chemicals. So even if you cut calories while eating at McDonalds, you are still ingesting endocrine disrupting chemicals. Those chemicals are NEVER on the ingredient label and we think they should be. Encouraging children to eat at McDonalds as part of a healthy lifestyle is not advisable. In fact, these endocrine disrupting chemicals can actually lower a child’s IQ and cause them behavioral problems. This is something no parent would sign up for. So the idea of McDonalds having the ability to be part of a “healthy lifestyle” is the making of very dangerous marketing spin. Especially during a time hormones are forming and regulating inside their body, this is NOT the time to bombard their system with chemicals that will increase their chances of having obesity, cancer, reproductive issues and cause early puberty, among other things.
But back to John Cisna, the Iowan high school teacher who thought it would be a brilliant idea to create a feel good story about eating his french fries–He said he was happy that 95% of the days french fries were on the menu, since they were his favorite. There is a non-stick chemical that surrounds the inside of the french fry box that is ALSO an endocrine disrupting chemical. Yummy, right?
The “540 Meals” documentary was offered as nutritional education for school and included supplemental materials teachers could use in the classrooms promoting what McDonald’s referred to as “good choices” that could be part of a regular diet. Whoever thought up this campaign was caught snoring during ethics AND chemistry class.
McDonalds Unethical Marketing Practices Are Nothing New
McDonald’s has repeatedly come under the hot seat for the continual and excessive promotion of their fast food to young children. A study done of commercials geared to kids in 2012 showed that McDonald’s chicken nugget Happy Meals were viewed an average of 185 times by kids ages 2-11. The next highest promoted kid’s meal was Burger King with a 23.4 views for the same age range. Children under 8 are particularly susceptible to marketing because until then they think adults always tell the truth about things.
And McDonald’s is not only essentially lying to children using advertising, but they are screwing over parents as well. This stacks the system against parents trying to find a healthy balance with their child’s relationship with food (and succumbing to the constant media pressure) and dealing with McDonald’s addictive qualities (being synthetically altered to maximize fat, sodium and sugar), creating an illusion of choice for caregivers. Let’s be frank. This isn’t about creating a healthier lifestyle, this is about selling burgers and making money.
10 Reasons Why Ronald McDonald Should Retire
And honestly, we’ve been encouraging Ronald McDonald to retire with Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man for years. In fact, here are our 10 reasons for our public outrage.
- Ronald McDonald is the Joe Camel of fast food. Do you remember Joe Camel? It seemed the cartoon camel was trying to market unhealthy behavior to children, so he was canned. That unhealthy behavior was smoking, which leads to cancer. We already know that eating fast food leads to diet-related disease such as obesity and type-2 diabetes.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says marketing to children under 8 years old is inherently deceptive. The FTC actually says deceptive marketing is against the law, so shouldn’t deceptive marketing to children be against the law?
- Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity says that advertising fast food to children sets them up for unhealthy food preferences that can last a lifetime.
- Childhood obesity rates are the highest they have ever been in history and this generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than us, and has been dubbed generation RX. Why are we allowing the predators inside of our schools to make matters even worse?
- There is an illusion of parental choice that the research does not support. In other words, when the deck is stacked against you as a parent, that isn’t real choice. Fast food marketing expands through all aspects of a child’s life so they are infiltrated with the brand’s message. Illustrated below are just how many ways McDonald’s is undermining your parental choice.
- McDonalds markets to children more than any other fast food brand. Parents need a level playing field when it comes to providing them with healthy food choices. Moms are the more ethical target audience. Why not market to moms instead?
- Clowns are just creepy.
- Modern progressive burger companies do NOT send clowns to school. Under the guise of teaching children about how to stand up to bullies, McDonalds sends their clown in full attire to schools. This is NOT an educational workshop, this is marketing.
- Equating happiness with happy meals is a dangerous suggestion to children. Fast food, and the marketing behind it can lead to a fast food addiction and possible eating disorders.
- Schools are for education, not marketing fast food.
Bettina Siegal of the Lunch Tray is One Badass Mom
Bettina Siegal has been dubbed by Mamavation as a badass blogger. She has championed past campaigns such as pressuring the USDA to change its policy on ‘pink slime’ in school cafeterias and chicken processed in China out of school meals. She is also highly active in her hometown area as a member of the Houston ISD Nutrition Services Parent Advisory Committee since 2010 and as a chairperson of the food/nutrition subcommittee of Houston ISD’s School Health Advisory Council.
Want to see more, start by heading on over to The Lunch Tray and celebrate Bettina’s 6th blog anniversary. Let her know you have come from Mamavation and make sure to say we think she’s badass.
Congrats Bettina and thank you for your advocacy!