The Drs: McDonald’s Sponsored Speaking Tour Controversy


The Doctors: Prostate Cancer Awareness

The Doctors kicked off Throwback Thursday by welcoming Dr Jim Sears and Dr Lisa Masterson back for the episode! They began by looking at hot headlines, first looking at a viral video claimin to raise awareness for a men’s health issue on an unconventional way. For every guy that took part, the organization would donate $100 to the Movember campaign. They offered free prostate exams right there on the beach, and Dr Drew Ordon said he absolutely would have been there for that if he knew about it. The biggest thing is that they were raising awareness and hopefully encouraging men to get an actual prostate exam.

Dr Travis Stork explained that there is no perfect way to look for prostate cancer, but men should be checked regularly especially after age 50.


The Doctors: John Cisna, McDonald’s Diet Controversy

The Drs: McDonald's Sponsored Speaking Tour Controversy

The Doctors discussed the controversy over a school speaking tour sponsored by McDonald’s talking about nutrition. (jeepersmedia / Flickr)


The Doctors then moved on to talk about a high school biology teacher named John Cisna who famously lost 37 pounds two years while following a unique meal plan. He only ate McDonald’s food, three times a day, totalling 2,000 calories, for 90 days straight. He claimed that the experiment showed that there is nothing wrong with fast food, and blaming the industry only gives people an excuse for why they’re overweight.

John is now a McDonald’s brand ambassador, and they’re paying for his time and travel as he speaks about his successful diet, with a documentary he made, reaching more than 90 high schools, middle schools, and colleges. He claims his lectures are about how all fast food isn’t bad, and that it’s all about choice. Is he targeting kids with a dangerous, misleading message?

The Doctors: “540 Meals” McDonald’s Documentary Controversy

The Doctors then welcomed writer and mother of two Bettina Siegel, who became an online ambassador against the school speaking tour being sponsored by McDonald’s. She explained that she was actually approached and asked to help in getting 540 Meals into schools in Houston.

She said upon watching the film, she realized it was “heavily branded” and said it was “like watching a McDonald’s infomercial.” She said we shouldn’t want our kids marketed to while trying to learn in school, on top of the fact that she believes the film is nutritionally misleading. We would love to teach our kids how to make healthy choices in a fast food restaurant, but she believes the film leaves out critical information kids would need to know in order to make healthy choices. She thinks it will backfire and cause kids to eat even more fast food.

Dr Jim Sears watched the 19-minute long video and agreed with the infomercial idea, saying McDonald’s was mentioned 36 times, every 31 seconds, proving it’s heavily branded and doesn’t belong in schools. He said the message is “okay” but it’s not the way to go.

The Doctors asked John Cisna several times to join the show but he was unavailable. They instead were able to welcome Shaye Arluk, a McDonald’s nutritional consultant, who said she sees the film as a conversation starter, considering 40% of teens are eating fast food daily. She argued that it’s important to have conversations about how to eat healthy fast food, modifying the way a teen is eating to help them balance nutrients.

The Doctors: Debate Over Fast Food Documentary In Schools

Dr Travis said he doesn’t have a problem with the message, it’s the branding that he has an issue with. He said there’s a difference between paying for an ad on TV and having someone come into your school and give a branded message, no matter how good or bad the message is. Dr Sears pointed out that in the film, they implied that all the meals they discussed would fall within 240 milligrams of sodium, and then went on to talk about a typical day’s meal, and that day had almost 4,000 milligrams of sodium, which is clearly unhealthy.

He said the video is claiming that Cisna stayed within certain perameters when there’s no way he could have. Bettina added that the film hides a lot of information, including the fact that Cisna was almost 300 pounds when he started, so of course he lost weight just by cutting his calories to 2,000 per day. He also doesn’t tell kids how to figure out their own calorie needs.

Shaye argued that the video was never meant to serve as a diet message, it was produced by Cisna himself as a science experiment he did to engage teenagers he was teaching on the topic of nutrition. She said it’s supposed to be a conversation starter, but serve as an example of what should be eaten to lose weight. The video ends with the message that someone shouldn’t eat McDonald’s every day.

The Doctors: Discussing Fast Food In Schools

The Doctors then spoke to a principal at a school who had Cisna come and speak to their students, and he said it was a positive experience for them. Adam Kurth explained that his school is in a rural community outside of Green Bay and joked that fries and burgers are practically appetizers in that area. He said Cisna’s presentation was appropriate for their school because just 100 yards away is a McDonald’s and said Cisna did a good job at pointing out that it’s about the choices you make everywhere you go.

Bettina is adamently opposed to the tour and is spreading a petition to have it stopped, saying it doesn’t belong in schools. So where do you stand? Do you think the talk is appropriate for schools? Do think the message is there, but the wrong execution? How do you feel about John Cisna’s message?


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