Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


McDonald’s, dietitians, and ethics


It was all over the news last week. McDonald’s Director of Nutrition (a dietitian) proclaiming that their food is healthy.

A part of me feels sorry for this poor woman. As a dietitian, I know how difficult it can be to find work in our field. It also made me sad to read her statement that she eats McDonald’s food 1-2 times a day and is already feeding foods from there to her two-year-old child. I understand that she has an obligation to make her employer look good. However, as a dietitian, I also find it incredibly distasteful that a fellow professional would be promoting McDonald’s as a healthy choice. Where does an RDs ethical responsibility lie? With his/her employer or with the public?

In the interview, Cindy Goody, the RD in question, mentions a couple of products that are served on buns made with 8 grams of whole grains. What the heck does this mean? Not much, actually. It just means that out of the total weight of ingredients in the bun, 8 grams of it is whole grain. An average bun is about 50-60 grams. That means that the remaining 42-52 grams are from other flour, sugar, and other ingredients that go into a bun. It doesn’t mean that the bun contains 8 grams of fibre. Not particularly impressive.

Goody also mentions that foods are being made healthier by reducing calories and sodium. As all you nutrition savvy people know, removing crap from an unhealthy food does not automatically make it healthy. You are still likely to be missing out on important nutrients (such as fibre, healthy fats, potassium, calcium, antioxidants, etc.) if you’re regularly eating from McDonald’s “healthy” menu options. Sure, there are better and worse choices you can make if you’re eating at McDonald’s but highly processed fast food is never going to be a match for a balanced, home-cooked meal.