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Concerned Parents Petition McDonald's to Stop Propagandizing Their Kids

A documentary being screened in schools promotes McDonald's food as a weight loss tool.

Mike Mozart/Flickr

Being a parent is rough: You try to teach your kids that they can't subsist solely on a diet of Goldfish crackers and soda, only for some guy to show up to their school promoting a fast food diet. Schoolteacher John Cisna lost 37 pounds eating McDonald's for three meals a day, and now he's working as a paid brand ambassador for the McNugget empire — traveling to schools across the nation to screen his documentary that's basically the anti-Supersize Me. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this isn't sitting too well with some parents.

The short film uses jazzy music and animations to convince young people that McDonald's can be nutritious and even part of a weight-loss plan

The documentary is called 540 Meals: Choices Make the Difference and it chronicles Cisna's 90-day experiment in which he ate McDonald's three times a day. After restricting himself to 2,000 calories a day and adding 45 minutes of exercise four or five times a week, Cisna of course lost weight — as anyone who begins a campaign to eat less and move more will. As McDonald's just begins to emerge from a long sales slump, the documentary uses jazzy music and animations to convince young people that their burgers and fries can actually be nutritious and even part of a weight-loss plan.

According to Today, Cisna has screened the film at "more than 90 colleges and high schools across the country in the past year, with McDonald's paying for his time and travel expenses." This isn't sitting too well with some parents, who have launched a Change.org petition asking McDonald's to stop showing said film in schools; the petition has nearly 70,000 signatures. The creator of the petition writes:

The film is pitched to schools as "educational" — it even comes with a "Teachers Discussion Guide" prepared by McDonald's — but in reality it's little more than a heavily-branded infomercial for the fast food chain, one that seems cynically calculated to get kids to eat even more fast food than they do now. In this era of childhood obesity, that’s a terrible idea . . . Teens and pre-teens are notoriously impulsive. So when a trusted authority like a science teacher says he ate fries on a near-daily basis for six months, as well as regularly eating Big Macs, Quarter Pounders and ice cream — and that he still eats at McDonald’s every day — do we think teens are suddenly going to become highly disciplined calorie-cutters? Or do we think they’ll get the message that it’s OK to eat even more fast food?

Eater reached out to McDonald's public relations department and is awaiting a statement. Watch the documentary in full below:

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