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McDonald's Turns Teacher's Weight Loss Story Into Propaganda Film to Show in Schools

The documentary is called '540 Meals: Choices Makes the Difference.'


McDonald's has hatched a plan to convince middle schoolers and high school students that its food — which has been proven to be full of unhealthy ingredients — is a good, wholesome choice for lunch. According to the Lunch Tray, the corporation created a documentary that "promotes the McDonald's brand so aggressively," it is essentially an infomercial for the chain. McDonald's struggling sales as of late are due in part to the chain's reputation as a greasy beacon of cheap, low-quality junk food. While the company continues to try to fool the world into believing it serves healthy options (see: "artisan" sandwiches that no one thinks are actually artisan), it hopes convincing impressionable young minds the food is nutritious — and a possible weight loss tool — could change its image and profits.

Called 540 Meals: Choices Make the Difference, the documentary covers an experiment conducted two years ago by Iowa science teacher John Cisna. He set out to discredit the famed documentary Supersize Me and ate three meals a day at McDonald's for 90 days straight. Cisna — who restricted himself to 2,000 calories per day and added in 45 minutes of exercise four to five days a week — lost 37 pounds over the course of the experiment.

The documentary focuses on how Cisna involved his students in the experiment, alleging that the project was their idea. However, the Lunch Tray points out that in his self-published book about the project, Cisna writes that he came up with the idea after having dinner with a friend, who also happens to be a McDonald's franchisee. (The friend allegedly provided all the food.)

The documentary itself features upbeat music and cutesy animations with Cisna dropping wholesome soundbites about how the experiment was really for the kids and not for his personal gain: "This experiment wasn't about McDonald's, this experiment wasn't about me, this experiment was about teaching kids to use critical skills in making proper choices."

Cisna now works as a paid brand ambassador for McDonald's, where he travels around the country promoting the chain to middle and high schoolers, as well as students studying dietetics. There's even a teacher's discussion guide, created by the chain, to go with the documentary, but it fails to include any questions about actual nutrition. Eater has reached out to Cisna, McDonald's, and some of the schools for comment. You can watch the movie in full below: