Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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The dirty game of fast food charity #MiracleTreatDay #BurgerstoBeatMS

Last week it was “Burgers to Beat MS Day”. A couple of weeks ago it was “Miracle Treat Day”. Each occasion got me a little riled up and I sent out a few snarky tweets about the “occasions”.

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In case you’re not aware of these clever marketing opportunities fundraising initiatives let me give you a quick run down. On Miracle Treat Day (I feel wrong capitalizing this, these days aren’t worthy of anything more than lowercase) $1 from every blizzard sold in the US and Canada was donated to participating Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Burgers to Beat MS is pretty much the same except it’s $1 from A&W teen burger sales going to the MS Society of Canada. These are just two examples of fast food aligning themselves with healthcare to detract from the fact that regular consumption of fast food contributes to a number of diseases.

It’s a total win-win. The fast food corporation comes out looking like they’re doing amazing things to cure disease and improve the lives of sick children. They also make money while doing it ($1 is not the cost of a teen burger or a blizzard and most people will buy more than the one item). The hashtags are all over twitter for the day garnering free positive publicity for the company which surely boosts sales well after the one day promotion ends. You really can’t fault the fast food companies for creating such initiatives. I also don’t fault the people buying the blizzards and the burgers. Who doesn’t want to be made to feel like they’re doing a good deed by eating a delicious blizzard or burger? If you can help suffering children or cure MS by eating a treat, why not? The real fault lies with the hospitals and MS Society, and all the other organizations that willingly embrace this form of fundraising. Of course, to be fair, the real real fault lies with the lack of government funding for these vital organizations but the buck has to stop somewhere and I think that hospitals and organizations promoting health should not associate themselves with fundraisers that promote illness.

I’d also like to get people thinking a little bit more critically about charitable fundraising. Dairy Queen proudly proclaims that in 2015, over $5 million was donated to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the US and Canada as a result of Miracle Treat Day. In 2014, international DQ sales were $4.1 billion and Dairy Queen was one of the world’s top performing fast food chains. That $5 million that sounds like so much to us average people is less than pennies to DQ. It’s about 0.12% of total sales. $5 million is next to nothing for one hospital’s budget, let alone spread amongst the 170 hospitals in the network. That’s $29, 411 per hospital; about 10% of the cost of an MRI machine or nearly 7% of the salary for one pediatric surgeon. Whereas, assuming the average blizzard size purchased is a medium, DQ is pocketing about $15 million in sales from Miracle Treat Day. This is solely from the sale of blizzards alone, on one day. In comparison, A&W’s Burgers to Beat MS has resulted in a paltry $8 million in donations to the MS Society of Canada over the past seven years.

How sad is it that hospitals and organizations like the MS Society are so desperate for funding that they’re willing to provide marketing for fast food chains and to encourage the consumption of less than nutritious foods for a little more funding?

No, I am not opposed to burgers and blizzards. However, I don’t think that we need to be encouraged to consume these foods anymore than we already do. How does raising a little money for one chronic disease justify the development of other chronic diseases incurred by the regular consumption of fast food? At what expense are these “healthcare” organizations willing to get a few bucks? I know that many people think “it’s just one treat” but when it’s something you’re only buying because you’re being made to feel good about it by the charity aspect and these events are happening on the regular it’s never “just one”. It’s part of a broader problem in our food environment. There’s constant justification for the consumption of treats and foods that should be consumed infrequently. There is no excuse for promoting heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and type two diabetes under the guise of supporting hospitals and health charities.

I implore the hospitals and charities not to participate in such fundraising endeavours. I beg the government to start allocating more of my tax dollars to healthcare funding; especially toward health promotion and disease prevention.

It’s not all on the government and organizations though. As long as we as consumers continue to support these promotions with our money, our mouths, and our hashtags, the companies and organizations involved will continue to conduct them. The next time one of these days comes around please consider donating the money you would have spent on fast food to a charity of your choice. If you do participate in the fundraiser please don’t share it on social media. Dairy Queen, A&W, and all of the other fast food chains don’t need your free advertising.

 

 


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Follow Friday: #NourishBrownBag Challenge

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I absolutely love this Brown Bag Challenge that I’ve been seeing in support of Nourish Nova Scotia. Anyone can participate, just make a lunch for a friend or co-worker, tag them on social media, and ask them to donate $10 to Nourish Nova Scotia to support healthy breakfast programs in Nova Scotia. Pay it forward and keep the challenge going. A great way to share a love of food!


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Follow Friday: @gloomchen

This isn’t your usual Follow Friday. I’m not telling you that you should follow my fito friend Summer (aka Gloomchen on twitter and fitocracy) although you should. Rather, I’m encouraging everyone who can afford to, to donate to her indie gogo campaign.

She’s trying to raise the money to get much needed surgery. She lost over 140 lbs and has kept it off for over ten years now. If you’ve ever scrolled through one of her fito workouts you know that she works HARD to maintain this loss. As you can imagine, weight loss of this magnitude has left her with some loose skin. This is both a physical and psychological burden. However, it’s not covered by health care so she needs to come up with enough money to cover the cost of the procedure and recovery. While she has been saving money for some time now she still needs $6, 500 (not counting donations already pledged). Please visit the link above to donate and to view her youtube channel. If you are unable to donate, please share the link with your social networks.


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Follow Friday: Beyond Milk and Cookies @beyond_milk

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I’m not quite sure how I got on the mailing list for this organization but I’ve gotten a couple of emails from Beyond Milk and Cookies this month and they seem like an initiative worth supporting.

Their mission is “to inspire lifelong lessons of healthy eating and nutrition”. They’re a non-profit organization, based in the US, providing basic cooking classes for students from kindergarten through high school. Cooking is probably the most important skill in fighting obesity and associated lifestyle diseases and it’s something that can be imparted in young children and used for their entire lives.

They’ve got an indigogo campaign underway which you can support here.