By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
McDonald's executives aren't just loving it - they're eating it up.
Roughly one decade after the film Super Size Me skewered McDonald's for selling food that the hit documentary film claimed was not healthy and lacking in key nutritional elements when consumed regularly, there's a new, unexpected twist to the experiment that had director Morgan Spurlockgaining weight and getting sick after chowing-down on McDonald's food only for 90 days.
The new twist: A science teacher in the Colo-Nesco School District in Colo, Iowa, says he lost 37 pounds in 90 days also by eating only McDonald's food - but he followed strict nutritional limits laid out by his students. That included limits of 2,000 calories a day and attempts to stick with daily recommended allowances for protein, carbohydrates, cholesterol and several other nutritional restrictions, according to KCCI News, the TV station that first reported the story.
But the teacher, John Cisna, ate a variety of stuff on the menu - including burgers and desserts. "So, this isn't something where you say, 'Well, he went to McDonald's, and he had only salads.' No, I had Big Macs, the Quarter Pounders with cheese. I had sundaes. I had ice cream cones," he told the TV station, noting that during the three months, his cholesterol dropped from 249 to 170.
MORE: Five things you didn't know about McDonald's
But he also had two Egg White Delight McMuffins, a bowl of McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and 1% milk for breakfast and, typically, a salad for lunch. Then, at dinner, he'd often have a more traditional Value Meal. He also adopted a new exercise regimen of walking 45 minutes daily.
For McDonald's, which has been repeatedly baffooned - if not lambasted - in the news media for selling junk food, the experiment is both an eyebrow raiser and an I-told-you so moment that is surely gloat-worthy.
"We congratulate John Cisna on his weight loss and improved overall health, and we are pleased he was able to accomplish his goals by making balanced choices, which included many of his favorite McDonald's menu items," says Cindy Goody, senior director of nutrition at McDonald's USA, in a statement. "Like Mr. Cisna, many of our customers are looking for ways to find balance in their diets and make informed choices."
Spurlock, who had a very different experience eating only at McDonald's 10 years ago, was filming the CNN show Inside Man on Monday and unavailable for comment.
Jo Ann Hattner, a nutritional consultant at Stanford University School of Medicine, says the school still shows Spurlock's film to new medical students. But since that documentary was made, she notes, McDonald's has much improved its menu, with items like Egg White Delights and a variety of salads. "You have to give them some credit," she says.
But, she notes, "I don't advise a McDonald's diet," she says. "You need more fresh vegetables and fresh fruits."
Cisna, the teacher, told KCCI News, that he's not recommending that folks eat every meal at McDonald's either, but that they make wise eating choices wherever they eat. "It's our choices that make us fat, not McDonald's."