Monday, February 01, 2010

The McHealth Check? The Heart and Stroke Foundation heads to McDonald's!

Of course!

Because Canadians don't eat out often enough, right? Certainly health authorities should be doing whatever they can to encourage Canadians to eat out more often, right? Clearly it's not enough that food dollars spent outside the home have risen nearly 20% since the 70s to a whopping 54%, we should be aiming higher, right? Oh, and eating out being a seminal component of our rising obesity rate, who cares, right? Certainly not the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and really, who better to champion eating out than their atrocious Health Check program?

You know the program. It's the one that has less stringent criteria than the almost instantaneously laughed out of business Smart Choices program in the States. It's the one that gives its seal of approval to restaurant meals at fast casual restaurants like Boston Pizza to entrees that have up to 960mg of sodium (and that's the new "stricter" criteria) or nearly 2/3 of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's own daily recommended 1,500mg maximal sodium intake. It's also the one that Heart and Stroke Foundation Registered Dietitian Carol Dombrow proudly reports,

"When you see the Health Check symbol on a food package or restaurant menu, you know the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s registered dietitians have evaluated this item and it can contribute to an overall healthy diet. Look for the Health Check symbol to help you make wise choices."
Well guess what? Health Check's coming to a McDonald's near you.

Yup, the brilliant dietetic brain trust over at Health Check is about to roll out Health Check'ed items at McDonald's, Tim Horton's, Subway and other fast food restaurants.

Genius! What better way to promote health than to give Canadians a reason to feel good about eating industrially processed food-like substances rather than cooking with real whole foods?

I know, you think I must be making this up. Sadly I'm not. A few days ago I took a survey from the Heart and Stroke Foundation about their involvement in restaurants and came across question #7 (click the picture below to see it all blown up).

Here's what it reported/asked (emphasis mine),
"The Heart and Stroke Foundation is extending its Health Check program to Quick Service Restaurants, such as McDonald's, Subway and Tim Horton's. Healthy meals will be identified on the menu with the Health Check logo. Brochures explaining the program and the nutrient requirements will be supplied, and training will be provided to restaurant employees.

Do you foresee any major obstacles to the success for this program?
Nope, I don't see any major obstacles. You see the Heart and Stroke Foundation is clearly comfortable pimping out their good name to pretty much anyone who asks, and given how pathetically underpowered their inclusionary nutritional criteria are, that opens up the door to healthy eating titans like McDonald's to help line Heart and Stroke Foundation pockets.

Outraged? Think the Heart and Stroke Foundation should be going out of their way to encourage cooking with whole foods, not eating out? Think it obscene that Heart and Stroke Foundation Health Checks will soon adorn the menu at McDonald's? Please don't stay silent, not this time. This time, if you're a concerned allied health professional, a concerned parent, or just plain concerned, please take just a few brief moments of your time and click here to send an email to Sally Brown, the Foundation's CEO, Stephen Samis, the Foundation's Scientific Director, Terry Dean, the General Manager of Health Check and copied on the email will be Health Check's Technical Advisors and Health Check's Strategic Advisory Panel.

I can only hold out hope that Health Check's partnership with McDonald's will do to them what Smart Choices' partnership with Froot Loops did - expose the Health Check program for exactly what it is - an irresponsible program that confuses and misinforms Canadians about what is and what is not healthy.

Social media folks - please tweet this (retweet button below), blog about it, link to it and just plain make noise. I haven't seen the Checks in McDonald's yet and maybe, just maybe, enough noise will make it through the few feet of sand the Heart and Stroke Foundation folks have shoved their heads into and knock a tiny bit of sense into them and put an end to this madness before it formally begins.

Don't want to do any of that? Well then why don't you at least keep your eyes open for Heart and Stroke Foundation, and apparently fast-food loving, registered dietitian Carol Dombrow eating at McDonald's and making the "wise choices" the program she proudly shills for is soon going to be encouraging everyone to make.

Filet-O-Fish anyone?

[Hat tip to blogging friend and registered dietitian Vincci who pointed me to the survey via her blog C'eci n'est pas un food blog]