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Kiwi McMarketing

Menu items get Weight Watchers’ ok at 150 New Zealand shops. Cause for alarm?

Earlier this month came news from New Zealand that Weight Watchers is partnering up with 150 of the country’s McDonald’s restaurants to ‘approve’ some of the fast-food chain’s menu items (Chicken McNuggets, Fillet-O-Fish and Sweet Chili Seared Chicken Wrap) as part of a diet-friendly meal. And on this brow-raising venture, the company has stated that ‘part of our philosophy (is) that you can enjoy life … while still achieving your weight loss goals.’

I touched upon another Weight Watchers collaboration earlier this year, when in Australia it announced an official endorsement of a line of low-alcohol wine by local winery McWilliam’s.

However, this new partnership seems a little more far-fetched. And others have, unsurprisingly, been voicing their concerns.

According to AP, nutritionists and weight-loss experts have accused it of simply being a ‘marketing ploy to lure customers into the restaurant.’ A senior adviser from the Australian Obesity Policy Coalition has been quoted saying: ‘It implies this food is healthy…when often it is high in fat and salt. Chicken McNuggets are Chicken McNuggets whether it’s got Weight Watchers on it or not.’

Meanwhile, TVNZ has brought to light that McDonald’s paid Weight Watchers an undisclosed sum for the deal, suggesting that this is indeed a strict business deal being marketed as something else. The news network also reminds us of a 2007 campaign for which McDonald’s paid the Australian Heart Foundation approximately $275,000 to approve nine McDonald’s meals.

It’s interesting how far marketers continue to go to create the illusion that food clearly detrimental or at best non-beneficial to our health should continue to be consumed by the informed public.