More On The Nine-Year-Old Media Hero

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but I came across an interview with the nine-year-old girl who parroted her mother’s opinions about McDonald’s at a shareholders meeting and was hailed by the media as a hero as a result.  I think the interview proves the points I made in my last post.

Before we get to that, I’ll explain my opinion of what motivates the anti-McDonald’s activists.  If you’ve seen Fat Head, you may remember the part where I said something like this:

“When I’ve discussed the merits of Super Size Me with my friends and associates, I noticed a curious pattern:  almost everyone who really likes that movie shares a common and dearly-held belief …”

(on-screen graphic)   POOR PEOPLE ARE STUPID!

Dr. Eric Oliver then appeared to say what struck him about Super Size Me was the underlying attitude that the poor can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves and need someone else to step in and protect them.  The people who want other people “protected” from McDonald’s are snobs.  (My label, not Dr. Oliver’s.)

As Jacob Sullum explained elsewhere in the film, not everyone has the same values.  I’d rather be healthy than eat junk food.  That’s my choice.  But some people value pleasure over long-term health.  They know sodas and french fries are junk food, but choose to consume them anyway. That’s their choice.  It doesn’t seem to occur to the elitists that a person can knowingly eat junk food without being a victim.

Back when I worked at home and had more time to break my own rule about not arguing with idiots, I participated in a couple of online debates that went something like this:

Of course we should put limits on advertising by McDonald’s!  They use slick advertising to sucker people into eating their lousy food.

I’m sorry McDonald’s suckered you into eating their food.  I hope you recover soon.

I didn’t say I eat there.  I never eat there.

So you’re just concerned about people who lack your superior intelligence and ability to resist slick advertising.  Must be very flattering to view so many other people as your inferiors.

Well what about kids?  They don’t know any better.

That’s why there are parents.  Kids can’t eat at McDonald’s unless their parents take them to the restaurant and buy the food.

But kids see the ads and want the Happy Meals and badger their parents until the parents give in.

I’m sorry your kids badgered you into buying them Happy Meals.


I see.  So you’re not really concerned about McDonald’s advertising to your kids.  You’re concerned about them advertising to kids whose parents lack your superior intelligence and ability to resist being badgered.

I didn’t say that!

No, they don’t come out and say it, but that’s clearly what they mean.  Which brings me to the interview with Hannah, the nine-year-old media hero.  Let’s look at some quotes:

Q. Why did you bawl out McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson?

A. Because I wanted to speak for all those kids and parents who wanted to have that voice and talk to McDonald’s.

Q. Can you sum up what you told him?

A. I said it’s not fair that big companies try to trick kids into eating food that’s not good for them by giving them toys — and with cartoon characters.

Okay, so she felt the need to stand up for all the kids who are tricked into eating at McDonald’s.  Surely she has bad memories of being tricked herself.

Q. How many times have you eaten at McDonald’s?

A. I don’t know. Maybe three or four times.

EXCUSE ME?!!  If McDonald’s is so good at “tricking” kids into eating their Happy Meals, why has she only eaten there three or four times in her entire life?  This isn’t a case of her mom taking her to McDonald’s for the hundredth time and then smacking herself in the head and saying, “Dangit!  Those sneaky bastards tricked me again with their cartoon characters!”  Nope, Mom doesn’t take little Hannah to McDonald’s.  She’s a smart lady, you see – an activist and all that.  But she’s very worried that the stupid people won’t be able to resist the cartoon-character ads.

Q. What’s your biggest problem with McDonald’s?

A. My biggest problem with McDonald’s is that they trick kids into eating their food by using toys and cartoon characters and sports icons.

Q. What if they stopped all that?

A. If they put more healthy food on their menu, I’d be OK with that. But when you think of the Golden Arches and McDonald’s, you think of Big Macs, fries and nuggets.

So Hannah and her mom would be “OK with that” if McDonald’s completely abandoned their business model and served the kinds of foods Hannah’s mom thinks other people should be eating.  Apparently Hannah’s mom believes people are automatons who will just eat whatever McDonald’s serves.  Riiiiight.  I’m sure the McDonald’s executives wish it were that easy — especially those who were around for the McLean fiasco.

If McDonald’s decided to serve the foods Hannah’s mom wants other people to eat, here’s what would happen:  their customers would start going to Burger King.

Q. What do you think McDonald’s should add to its menu?

A. Healthy things like kale chips and veggies on a stick and fruit on a stick.

Those must be your favorite foods, then – the kinds of foods you’d go out to a restaurant to buy.

Q. What’s your favorite meal?

A. Spaghetti, tomato sauce, garlic bread and Caesar salad.

What happened to kale chips and veggies on a stick?

Q. Where do you like to eat out?

A. Pizza places.

Pasta, bread and pizza … well, thank goodness you don’t eat at McDonald’s.  Those burgers are bad for you.

Q. Who wrote your speech?

A. Me and my mom wrote it together at home on the computer. It took about a day to write.

“Here, Hannah.  Mommy wrote a speech for you to give at the shareholders meeting.”

“Why am I am giving the speech, Mommy?”

“Because, Sweetheart, if you stand up and say Mommy’s words, the media will swoon and hail you as a brave little hero.  If Mommy stands up and says Mommy’s words, they might think I’m just a busybody elitist.”

And that’s exactly what she is.  Instead of insisting McDonald’s serve kale chips and veggie sticks, I’d suggest she open her own chain of restaurants and put those items on the menu.  I’m sure she’d sell billions and billions.


67 thoughts on “More On The Nine-Year-Old Media Hero

  1. J

    This is so frustrating, but I’ll refrain from using the lord’s name in vain because I dont want to offend anyone..but I feel like shaking some of these people while saying “PEOPLE DON’T GO TO MCDONALDS TO EAT VEGETABLES!!!!”…geez

    *takes deep, controlled breaths*

    Like people told me in the street-interview scenes in Fat Head: I don’t go to McDonald’s for broccoli. I go to McDonald’s for burgers and fries.

    1. Kristin

      Mac Donald’s would do a lousy job of making vegetables.

      I think part of the problem is that people are now trained to believe that all fatty food is bad for you and if it tastes good it must be bad for you. Few people buy the line that some herbs and a squeeze of lemon is as tasty as a nice dollop of fat. It isn’t. As long as people believe a healthy diet means low fat and lots of crunchy veg, they’ll keep choosing Mac Donald’s. I’d bet more folks would find a healthy diet more agreeable if they knew how much butter it could involve.

      It makes me crazy when someone tells me my low carb high fat diet isn’t sustainable. And eating tasteless food and being hungry all the time is?

      I find eating a high-fat diet very sustainable.

  2. fredt

    Hi Tom:

    Ah… “There is no point arguing with an idiot. They will just pull down to their level, and beat you up with their experience.”

    McDonald’s hot tea is OK. That is their only real – fit for human consumption – product, in my opinion, that they produce.

    The customer votes with their feet.

    Yup. McDonald’s doesn’t tell people what to eat. Customers tell McDonald’s what to serve through their purchases.

    1. Marcie

      I go to McDonald’s drive thru at least 2x a week to get the coffee, its cheap and tastes better than Starbucks. My kids are in the backseat and don’t even ask for the food because they know its not healthy. If my 5 year old wants something I say “No” because I’m one of the few parents that does that anymore.

      We find “no” is a very effective parenting tool.

  3. Beowulf

    I used to be very anti fast-food. I, of course, didn’t eat there, and I felt that they “suckered” people/kids into their bad food choices. I have since decided that whether or not I approve of a food is no reason to ban that substance or interfere with a legitimate business model. If we start banning foods, then what happens when my beloved butter, red meat, and full-fat cheese are banned/limited? Freedom to make our own choices means fighting for that freedom for others, even if their choices aren’t what we would make.

    Bingo. What’s that speech about how they came for the Jews, and I didn’t protest because I wasn’t a Jew …?

    1. Peggy Sue

      Tom, your quote above is from Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, who was imprisoned by the Nazis for opposing their interference with the churches in Germany. There are several variations, but it goes something like this:

      When the Nazis came for the communists,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a communist.

      When they locked up the social democrats,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a social democrat.

      When they came for the trade unionists,
      I did not speak out;
      I was not a trade unionist.

      When they came for the Jews,
      I remained silent;
      I wasn’t a Jew.

      When they came for me,
      there was no one left to speak out.

      That’s the one.

    2. Tomas Blesa

      I totally agree with Beowulf, but I’d like to mention one little thing. In my country we have public healthcare system and everybody is required to contribute the same percentage from his/her salary (no option to escape from this). The point is this: If I have to pay for your healthcare then I have right to influence your lifestyle habits. If your healthcare is paid by you only then eat what you want, smoke what you want, stay on your couch.

      You’ve just explained why I’m dead-set against a government-run healthcare system: once “everyone pays” for your healthcare, everything you do will become “everyone’s” business — meaning the government’s business.

      1. Bullinachinashop

        Having a government health care system doesn’t mean other people get to question your personal decisions anymore than private insurance. Once you’re insured, other clients at xyz insurance don’t get to complain about how you got fat after your second kid.

        Perhaps a government-run system shouldn’t mean other people get to question your health decisions, but I’m pretty sure that’s how it would turn out.

  4. Paul

    I can see them reading this together. Conjurers a vision of mommy dog teaching baby dog how to properly watch television.

  5. Bullinachinashop

    What else can be said? There’s a special level of creepiness required to whore your kid on stage for your personal gain like that.

  6. Hilary Kyro

    Tom, I ditto your puke in a never-ending bread-bowl! I treasure my McDonald’s Pikachu and sports cards. Mercifully, the collector items are now sold individually without the Happy Meal and I no longer have need to lie to the McCrew about having a media-darling…er…um…child.
    It’s nice to have integrity, a waistline and a Karate-chopping Olympian Sponge Bob.

    I haven’t heard of those. While I defend the right of McDonald’s to market Happy Meals, we almost never let our girls order them — proving that resisting the marketing is not only possible, but easy.

  7. scott

    Kind of reminds me of an episode of south park where one of the parents who owns a coffee shop is upset about a new Harbucks (starbucks) moving in next to them, so he gives his son and the rest of the usual south park kids a speech on big corporations ruining small businesses for their class project and next thing you know the speech becomes popular and the whole town is trying to drive Harbucks out of town. It disgusts me when people use children like that for their own agenda. Pizza shops are more fancy and pricey than McDonalds so they must be healthier “head bang on desk”

  8. Bill Lee

    I had much the same reaction when I first read about this. What about individual responsibility? “The Devil (er, I mean McDonalds) made me do it!”

    I think the Mickey Dee exec should have told the truth and said, “we’re only selling what people want to buy,” instead of waffling on with a bunch of nonsense about nutritional alternatives.

    I would have liked to see him make that point, but with the media swooning over the child, I guess he felt the need to be deferential.

  9. Nick S

    Nail on the head. When I see people stand children up in public to make their points for them, all I can think is that they don’t believe their message is strong enough to stand up without the theater and emotional appeal of putting a child on the podium.

    Yeah, it’s quite manipulative. They know if you put a child up against an adult, the media will swoon over the child.

  10. Chris

    Great read as always, Tom! It seems like everyone today wants to go down in the history books by any means necessary. Whatever happened to self discipline and responsibility in this country??

    Those are considered old-fashioned, I guess.

  11. Amy

    Terrific dissection, Tom.

    We know McDonald’s is junk food, same as cookies and candy are. I’d rather my kids eat all wholesome food all the time, but given the choice between a McD’s cheeseburger and a box of pasta or a bag of jelly beans, I’d feed them the cheeseburger. We do take them to McD’s once in a great while. We’re never bothered or begged or pestered because we don’t let them watch TV or see advertising that encourages them to want this kind of stuff anyway.

    I wonder what’s more important: policing the food or policing media consumption. Both are critical factors for parents to consider, surely, but I wonder which one is the frontline.

    Yup, people buy all kinds of crap at the grocery store — such as cereals marketed to kids — and Hannah’s mom doesn’t seem to mind.

  12. Catherine

    Tom – yet again hitting the nail right on the head! The likes of “Hannah’s Mom” irritate me no end, and it is just beyond hilarious that Hannah gets taken to pizza restaurants, which, of course, offer far more healthy foods! What in the name of all that’s good are kale chips, though? Kale is a cabbage-like food, isn’t it? In the UK it is, anyway – how on earth would you make chips out of that? Parsnips, maybe, or even carrots, but kale? Ah – chips in the USA are what us in the UK call crisps, so maybe you could make crisps out of kale, if you deep-fried it, or dried it. I’m not sure either option appeals. People going to McDonald’s don’t go there for gunk like this, though. Choice is allegedly what us in the western world are supposed to have when it comes to our lives, and Hannah’s Mom can spout all she likes about burger joints, some people will want to go to them, and they have every right to do so.

    Kale chips are actually quite good. Chareva drizzles olive oil and salt on the kale leaves, then bakes them until they’re crispy. Then she serves them with sour cream for dipping. The girls love ’em.

    But demanding McDonald’s serve kale chips is ludicrous.

  13. Marilyn

    “Me and my mom. . .” ??? Time for her to go to school and learn something useful. Like grammar.

    Perhaps she’s too busy learning activism.

  14. Bruce

    A. Healthy things like kale chips and veggies on a stick and fruit on a stick.

    I see the problem here. McDonalds doesn’t have food on a stick. That’s what makes it healthy!!

  15. Liz

    When I was in elementary school, Mondays were actually days I looked forward to: we’d get to go to the library and check out books, followed by a trip to the McDonald’s drive-thru…then I hit puberty.

    By the time I was 15, I’d eat fast food and chips a few times a week. I gained weight very quickly and didn’t fit into my school uniform that fall. Being a teenager I dropped said weight and then some by “watching calories.” This worked until I got to college…

    …and it’s been a struggle ever since! So guess what? I don’t eat fast food b/c I can’t stand the way it makes me look and feel! I have cousins who eat it all the time, and they’re overweight and out-of-breath (nothing a beer and a cigar can’t fix!) They’re not stupid; I’m not stupid–we just made different choices, and our choices are NOT dictated by advertising or the FDA.

    I’d say I’m mad at a 9-year-old girl, but you’re right—I’m more annoyed at the self-righteous parents who put her up to it. Using a kid as a public mouthpiece for your agenda is questionable parenting.

    I’m not annoyed with the girl at all. I’m annoyed with her busy-body mom and with the media for not calling this what it was: an “activist” adult using her child as a human shield.

  16. Steve J

    Just as a tack-on to this. The ever-spiraling education level of our society is really saddening. I would say one part of this story I have the most problem with is the idea that poor are uneducated, or educable. I will say this, it used to be a hundred years ago, because you were poor, you analyzed your purchases at every turn. Heck, when I was growing up, we had no meals outside of the house.

    Somehow we’re supposed to equate Mcdonalds with poor people making bad decisions makes me crazy. Now, there is a good argument that could be made that all people (poor included) have been making bad decisions about various things purchased at mcdonalds/supermarkets because of the whole lipid myth — but the idea that poor people have to eat at mcdonalds just makes me crazy. Thanks for writing about this Tom.

    And of course, you can make decent choices at McDonald’s for a few bucks. Two McDoubles, toss the buns — not a bad meal.

  17. AnotherMotherForPeace

    Huh, looks like McDonald’s check came early this month for you Tom. You sure picked the underdog in this fight- Global Mega-Corp vs. 9 year old girl and her mom.

    Well, as long as they are anti government and anti liberal they are OK in your book. What I don’t get about you is McDonalds food is ultra-processed, loaded with refined sugar and other simple carbs. Isn’t that what you’re constantly railing again? Is that not the antithesis of the paleo diet principle?

    You’re half-right about some of your food themes but you just go off the rails when it comes to giant, hugely profitable corporations. You never met one you didn’t love. Your attacks are primarily focused on anyone who you deem to be slightly to left of Rush Limbaugh.

    But I’m disagreeing with you, so now feel free to call me an idiot, which is your usual knee-jerk response.

    That’s exactly how Hannah’s mom wanted you to view this situation: Look at the brave little underdog taking on the big, bad corporation! Except what we’ve actually got here is an activist mom who wants to impose her preferences on other people and is using her child as a weapon. Mommy doesn’t want other people’s kids to eat Happy Meals, so she wants to take away the right to advertise them. She claims McDonald’s “tricks” kids into eating there, even though she’s never been tricked. She presumes to tell McDonald’s what foods they should serve, apparently believing people will just eat whatever happens to be on the menu. She’s an elitist snob. Her status as an “underdog” doesn’t make her right.

    What you apparently don’t grasp is that I’m not pro-McDonald’s. I’m pro-freedom. I support the right of vegan restaurants to advertise too, even though I think a vegan diet is a lousy choice for most people.

    I’ve never met a corporation I don’t love? Really? You think I love Monsanto? How about ADM? The difference between McDonald’s and Monsanto is that McDonald’s doesn’t use the coercive power of government to make people buy their products. A “giant, hugely profitable” corporation like McDonald’s becomes huge and profitable by figuring out what people like and giving it to them.

    And yes, I will attack anyone who presumes to take away other people’s freedom to make their own choices. It just so happens that in the modern era, it’s usually liberals who think they can improve society by restricting other people’s freedoms.

    1. Firebird7478

      AnotherMotherForPeace…why single out McDonald’s? Why aren’t you protesting Dunkin’ Donuts? Cinnabon? You know that aroma that comes wafting through the mall really tricks people to visit the food court…

      Is it because there is no mascot?

      1. Jill

        It’s about restricting the MEAT, as per the UN anti meat line.

        Doughnut places etc only sell carbs and sugar. They’re OK for the activists.

        MInd you, once they’ve got rid of McDonald’s they’ll probably move on to other fast food places.
        Like the local deli, where you can buy ready cut turkey, chicken, cheese and salad in about 2 mins!

  18. Firebird

    ” I said it’s not fair that big companies try to trick kids into eating food that’s not good for them by giving them toys — and with cartoon characters.”

    I’d like to know what cereals are in their cupboard.

    I saw a cartoon bee in a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios. Somebody alert Hannah’s mom.

  19. Robinowitz

    Some of the most educated and intelligent people I know eat lots of junk and fast food. I think it’s a bit ridiculous for that girl’s mom to assume that only uneducated and poor folks eat fast food. Sure, those people believe that that food isn’t harming them or their kids, but they’re perfectly capable of reading information that would suggest otherwise. In the early days of eating this way I certainly tried to get my friends and family to consider eating this way, but most people just don’t want to know about it and prefer to feed their kids junk food and sugary soda and cereal because it’s easier than cooking.

    I’ve even recently gotten praise from certain relatives for how my son loves and greedily consumes fresh veggies of all kinds. My husband simply replied that he’d eat junk if we offered it to him, but he eats veggies and meats and good stuff because that’s ALL we offer him. He’s not a special case. We lead him by our examples and try to make good choices for him if we eat out. It’s not hard to say NO to junk or fast food–you just say NO and stand firm. My son can’t drive to the store or McDonald’s to get something advertised on TV, so why would it matter what they showed on TV? I don’t blame advertising. I don’t blame fast food. I think people should set good examples for their kids and not be afraid to say NO. I’d really hate to live in a country that wouldn’t allow me to eat ice cream or French fries if I really wanted them. I rarely do (or we make our own) but what am I teaching my child if I presume to force our beliefs into others and take away their right to make their own choices?

    Also, on what planet is a pizza place a healthier option that a burger joint? That mom should have written a better script for her daughter to read and at least lie and say that they never eat out and that mom makes everything from scratch. Garlic bread and pasta instead of a burger and fries? Hardly seems more nutritious;)

    Indeed, I’d rather my kids eat burgers than a big plate of pasta and garlic bread.

    1. Lori

      This reminds me of a line in the book “Au Contraire: Figuring out the French.” “Madame,” responded the waiter, “here, children eat what they are TOLD to eat.”

      And if people think that advertising is as horrible as they say it is, they ought to shut off the TV.


  20. Ham-Bone

    Have I told you lately that I love you?
    Have I told you there’s no one above you?

    And you fill my life with laughter
    You can make it better
    Ease my troubles that’s what you do

    (the Van Morrison version of course)

    Love it.

  21. Marilyn

    “Kale chips”? I love kale, but kale chips would surely be up there on a par with potato chips — little or nothing left of the nourishment of the original food, loaded with chemicals and processed to death.

    Perhaps this eager-beaver mother should read Georgia Ede’s post on broccoli and its kin before getting too carried away:

    Chareva bakes kale leaves with a little olive oil. Surely that’s not too much processing.

    1. Josh

      I will attest to that. Kale chips are very easy to make at home and very tasty. Next time I will try with sour cream (as you mentioned in a previous reply).

      Lay a single layer of kale on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350 until they are crisp (a few minutes). Take them out and salt them. Eat like potato chips.

      No processing and (I would imagine) most of the nutrients are intact. But if Lay’s were to make a version of this, I would probably stay away from them.

      If Lay’s made them, they’d probably be cooked in soybean oil.

  22. Lauren

    When I saw “9 year old hero” I thought you were going to talkabout the kid who slammed the door on a burglar’s arm, picked up the burglar’s gun,,and then shot at him through the door Now there’s a heroic kid. Of course, it’s a possibility that he eats McDonalds. Nevermind.

    Now that’s a kid I’d want to see interviewed.

    1. askmehowithappened

      That made me want to go and read about THAT kid. So I did. What I find fascinating about his story is that only some of the media declared him a hero. Others weren’t sure the Overlords would permit it. Obviously only a true hero takes on big corporations. Kids taking on armed criminals twice their age and four times their size are not worth our time.

      I also found it fascinating that the kid didn’t actually shoot the guy. He just shot AT him. And there was a second, ARMED, intruder in the home. Yet when the 9 year old shoots through the door, both those cowards ran away.

      Doesn’t that imply that if the two criminals had suspected that anyone in that house had a gun, they wouldn’t have gone in? What a relief that NYC’s stringent gun control laws make it hard for ordinary people to defend themselves.

      Oh wait…

      Most of our media types aren’t going to run with a story about a kid (or adult) successfully repelling a home invader with a gun. That might give people the (correct) impression that law-abiding citizens sometimes save their own lives with firearms.

      I saw another one awhile back … a 13-year-old boy home alone with his little sister heard someone jimmying the front door and ran upstairs to grab his dad’s rifle. When he peeked downstairs, a man was on the stairway, pointing a gun at him. The boy shot first and hit his target. We can only imagine what would have happened if that kid had been unarmed.

  23. Paul

    Tom, when I first watched fathead, I want site if I agreed with your political agenda, I only had a vague knowledge of Libertarians from watching south park (as far as I can tell there’s not really such a thing as libertarianism in the uk), but the more I’ve gone down this path, and followed your blog (2 years now), the more I’m becoming one myself. Too bad I think we can be sure that there’ll probably never be a libertarian society. Maybe we’ll get there One person at a time.

    Btw, I think you might be Ron Swanson.

    After watching Parks & Rec based on several recommendations, I think I may be part Ron Swanson as well, although he reminds me more of The Older Brother.

  24. David

    Rule number 1 for interpreting political and social activists: when they say it’s for the children, it’s not.

    They just use children as bludgeons and/or human shields.

  25. Lori

    Monster (the energy drink maker) doesn’t have quite as much patience with food evangelists at their shareholder meetings. Someone holding a Starbucks will complain about the amount of caffeine in their drinks. The CEO will point out that the coffee in their hand has more caffeine than one of their energy drinks.

    Personally, for all my food intolerances, I don’t have any problem eating at McDonald’s, and unless you’re comparing them to a place that serves pristine food, they’re no worse than any other restaurant. There’s nothing I can eat at a pizza/pasta joint unless they serve wings.

    Their meals are also no worse than a lot of what people buy at grocery stores.

    1. Firebird7478

      Pizza joints…when in doubt, go with the chef salad.

      I only eat a pizza 2-3 times per year, so when I go to a pizza joint, it’s for pizza.

  26. gollum

    I don’t like this whole children whining about some problem of their parents or teachers business, Young Pioneer style, I don’t like the whole outrage over some minor infraction (“I am required to read the label which tells me exactly how little of expensive ingredient are in this pesto”) while the Men dump carb sludge into diabetic people and other victims.

    That said, would they “advertise” to children that way if it didn’t work? The proposition to purchase sugar cereal at 300% the going price because you get some silly figurine, collecting gizmo, or because its mascot tiger looks really cool on the Enstupidiator would sound pretty ridiculous to an adult. I guess children have more purchasing leverage than you think.

    You may say that people should just unspoil their children and say NO. But do you really want to live in that kind of society where everyone and everybody tries to sucker and lure you? They do that to the adults too, the misinformation is just put into more adult sounding words. Here have your whole cereal low fat. Do you really wish for that? Is that what you wanted, a planet where you have to research nutrition for years, against prevailing opinion and sea of lies, just to avoid getting poisoned?

    Advertising mostly works by influencing brand preference. In other words, the cereal-eaters may be swayed to try Honey Nut Cheerios instead of their current cereal, but the people who don’t eat cereal won’t. Children have leverage only by asking parents to buy them what they want. As Hannah’s own experience proves, a parent who believes what the child is requesting is a bad choice will say no. We do it all the time.

  27. Nowhereman

    “Huh, looks like McDonald’s check came early this month for you Tom. ”

    Really? No, really? So when people like you trot this tired old attack mantra on Tom or anyone else, did you ever stop to think it might apply to Hannah’s mother as well, too?

    This same woman who thinks McD’s is bad for you, thinks pizza is A-Ok. Did it ever occur to you that Pizza Hut or Little Caesars could’ve payed her off and even suggested that she use her child as a human propaganda weapon?

    No? Perhaps you should think about that, instead of applying emotionalism because there’s a little kiddy involved, and not seeing the manipulative mother behind the curtain for what she really is: an elitist snob who thinks she knows better than everyone.

  28. Pat

    Re:”Perhaps this eager-beaver mother should read Georgia Ede’s post on broccoli and its kin before getting too carried away:”
    My favourite Ecology text book has a whole chapter on predator-prey relationships – where the predator is a herbivore and the prey are plants. Plants can’t run away so they have other defenses, and a lot of them are chemical. There is a reason a lot of our domestic plants only have a few insect problems – those are the insects that can cope with the chemical or physical defenses. Think Monarch butterfly caterpillar and milkweed, for the classic example. Broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage white butterfly (those little green “worms”) are another. So we, like other omnivores, are eating plants that have defenses. However, most domestic plants are more vulnerable than wild ones, since we have bred a lot of their defenses out to make them more palatable, so they are a bit less dangerous. Cooking is a wonderful invention, it destroys a lot of these harmful chemicals, and softens cell walls so we can do a better job of digesting the cells and getting the nutrients.
    Do I eat all sorts of vegetables? Yes. Given a choice, I prefer them cooked.

  29. Ulfric Douglas

    If your poor people eat at MacDonalds they HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY!!!

    Nah, McDonald’s can be a cheap meal.

  30. Ed

    I’m not sure if I’m a conservative leaning Libertarian or a Libertarian leaning conservative.

    Many issues leave me feeling conflicted. Motorcycle helmet laws are one prime example.

    I firmly believe in personal choice and self responsibility. Therein lies the rub. Our society and government force me to be responsible for and pay for other people’s stupid choices and screw ups.

    I believe everyone, or at least every adult, has the right to make their own choices as long as they bear total responsibility for those choices. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. We are ALL forced to bear the responsibility and cost. Wish I could figure out a solution to that problem.

    Two things to keep in mind:

    1) If we’re going to restrict people’s freedoms anytime there’s a potential cost to “society,” then we can restrict almost anything … hiking in the woods (you could get lost or hurt and require rescuing), skiing, having children, playing football with your friends, taking a walk in a neighborhood with a high crime rate, etc.

    2) We don’t all pay.

    I wrote about that in this post:

    1. Jim Butler

      Helmet laws are an excellent example of a complete lack of logic and facts. The reason given for such laws is to reduce head injuries, thereby reducing the “burden” on the remaining public who don’t ride a motorcycle.
      I used to have this debate frequently.
      “Do you believe helmets should be worn?”
      “YES!…they reduce head injuries!!!”
      “Great…You are of course aware that there are hundreds of thousands of head injuries to drivers of automobiles, so you of course would support ALL drivers of ANY type of vehicle to wear helmets, right?”
      “Ummmm…no…wait….THAT’S crazy!!!”
      “Why is it crazy? You want to reduce head injuries. There are far more head injuries due to car accidents than there are due to motorcycle injuries.”
      “I don’t believe that!”

      And there you have it. The statistics are readily available, but that never mattered.

      When I had a bike, I wore a helmet. Usually. In many states in New England, it was my choice. But other people demanding that I wear a helmet without knowledge of the facts that there are far more head injuries in car accidents as a whole was just ridiculous.

      And as to the main topic…if there IS a hell, there’s a special place in it for people who use their children to forward and promote their own ideology. Our duty as parents is to raise our children such that they can think, reason, and make up their own minds about things as they enter adulthood, not to just parrot what we tell them.

      /soapbox off


  31. Bruce

    I wonder if the “mom” has GEICO insurance because she likes the cute little gecko?

    I saw this the other day…
    “I’ve come to learn that liberal means I do what I want and I also get to tell you what’s good for you.”

    Probably. Cartoon characters are apparently irresistible.

  32. Angel

    Ah, it’s so rare to see all these slavishly-worshipped children called out for what they are (parents’ pawns). One of the many reasons I don’t watch news anymore is stupid stories like this. Another variation is: child performs extraordinarily difficult feat with tremendous parental help, child becomes media darling and parent is mentioned only in passing.

    My childhood might have been a few decades ago, but I remember what I was able to accomplish without my parents, and that was – virtually nothing. It never fails to amaze me when people actually believe that these children did what was reported.

    Agreed. Our girls are starting to record episodes of their own YouTube show, and they of course need lots of help from Mom.

  33. Gregg Sheehan

    After my wife and I having lost over 8 kg each in the last 2 months eating LCHF, I was amused and inspired by the kid in this video (as well as annoyed by the woman). Seems that the kid knows more than the adults about appropriate diet he could be the poster child for LCHF. I don’t know the full background to the story but I suspect it is from one of those reality shows. “Bacon is good for me!”

    The boy has the right idea.

  34. Gregg Sheehan

    BTW, I forgot to mention that we are each 8kg lighter because I saw your Fathead movie and have been researching ever since. Thanks!

    Those are excellent results. Congratulations.

  35. Galina L.

    My son grew-up lean and without cavities. I used to take him to McD at least once a week because he could play there at any weather, but I didn’t keep a junk at home and cooked all meals. It is just stupid to request from a fast food place to provide a home-cooked meals. I whish they would use beef tallow again.

    McDonald’s is what it is. Everyone knows what it is. People like Hannah’s mom may as well demand that Ben & Jerry’s start serving fruit cups instead of ice cream.

  36. Cameron Baum

    Tom, go back to the kid in five or ten years. Chances are the opinions will be different.

    Here is what I thought of when reading this:

    Those two girls still question the Holocaust, but when you consider the mental and extreme views of mummy, I can’t say I am too surprised.

    Getting on topic, I wonder if the solution is to have this kid put on televion in a debate with your kids. I know you won’t make them parrot anythong, and would probably be able to be more capable than the kid spoon-fed information and given scripts to read from.

    But then, we are stooping to thier level, which I hate the idea of

    My daughter Sara would shred that kid in a debate. She’s already a fierce little debater at age 9. Just ask her mom.

  37. Jim Butler

    A quick note on fast food choices, MickyDees or others.
    In my current job, I travel…a lot. Some weeks I’m in 4 airports and 5 different cities.
    I’m currently confronted with the “I’m hungry…what the heck can I find to eat?” question.
    I do go to fast-food establishments, as sometimes it’s the only option I have available. In the morning, for breakfast, I go to Dunk’s and order a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich with no bread. It sometimes takes a minute to get the idea across, but it works. I’ve actually been to a few Dunk’s that must be frequented by a lot of low-carbers, because they’ll say “Oh…do you want a double-egg, sausage, cheese?” Meaning the take two eggs and put the sausage and cheese in the middle. Perfect.
    I was driving home from New Jersey last week, and around 7pm I was hungry, and also needed gas. Rest area, Burger King…ordered a Whopper w/Cheese, took it to a table, took the top bun off, slid the burger off the bottom bun into the other side of the little stryofoam thingy, and had a nice little low-carb snack.
    Yesterday my wife and I worked all day on getting our house ready to sell. Neither of us felt like cooking. She’s not LCHP yet, just me. We ordered subs for delivery. I got my favorite, Italian, toasted, with EVERYTHING including hots, she got a meatball. When they arrived, I grabbed a big salad bowl, and dumped the entire contents out of the roll into the bowl. GREAT chef’s salad, tons of bologna, salami, capacola, cheese, all on top of shredded lettuce, tomatoes and hot peppers, dressed with oliveoil/vinegar with oregano. And it was great. Bread went in the trash 🙂

    So there are ways 😉 You just have to be a little creative.


    1. Cameron Baum

      You know, Burger King is interesting. In the UK over a decade ago, they went and added butter to the bun, and upped the fat content of the mayonaise, to make it taste better.

      You can order the Whopper with no bun. Tell them to line the Whopper box with a couple of cheeseburger wrappers, and it’ll be good. They might be confused, but they’ll do it for you, and telling them about the wrappers will tell them this has been done before, and clearly works. (and it does. I have worked in there before now, and have ordered it that way as well.)

      We go to Five Guys for burgers here in Franklin. They’ll happily wrap your burger in lettuce.

      1. Rae

        That’s why I love Five Guys, and Cheeseburger Charley’s, and anyone else who freely advertises that you can order burgers bunless. Otherwise I just feel strange about ordering them bunless so I end up throwing away the bun – which bothers me. Even if it is bread!

        The advantage of living on land is that if we end up with bread we didn’t order, we toss it into a field and let the birds eat it.

    2. Jill

      I used to order a chicken salad baguette at a cafe I frequent. After I read Wheat Belly I ordered it and threw the baguette away. Then they came up with a name for it: BREADLESS BAGUETTE.
      i get my chicken salad (fresh and fab and I don’t have to make it) they don’t waste a baguette and we’re all good!! 🙂

      i do this too with every fast food meal I buy involving bread, although sometimes I order a pat of butter with them!

      ON the odd occasion I order fries, instead of the tomato sauce or mayo that comes with it, I order avocado or yoghurt if available. Many cafes are very accommodating in this respect unless it’s all premade.

      Yep – creative.

      I rarely order fries, but if I do, it’s at Five Guys. Their fries are made from potatoes cut right there in the restaurant and they’re cooked in peanut oil, not soybean or canola oil.

      1. John

        I love Five Guys, and I am a huge fan of Peanut oil. However, not all peanut oil is created equal. Most of the peanut oil used to fry foods in restaurants contains TBHQ. It is actually quite difficult for me to find pure peanut oil where I live (Northern Virginia the home of Five Guys).

        It’s probably not the highest quality, but for the few times in a year that I eat fries, I don’t worry about it.

  38. Ted Hutchinson

    i agree the idea that asking the food industry to act responsibly and control itself in the promotion of addictive foods to children is about as stupid as inviting burglars into your home to install a new security system.
    But we do have to be aware of the
    The Addictive Dimensionality of Obesity
    which concludes
    “It is telling that the two largest preventable threats to public
    health (smoking and obesity) involve the reward circuit that drives the motivation of individuals to consume rewards despite the fact that they are harmful to their health.
    Solutions to both of these epidemics will require, in addition to individual tailored
    approaches, broad public health initiatives that promote smart changes in the environment.

  39. neal matheson

    Hey Ted what was the factor that gave the United states (and later the UK) the striking jump in overweight/obesity in the early eighties. Obesity theories need to account for this jump.
    For the record I pestered my parents to take us to McDonalds when they first opened here and I was never taken to one, but on the flip side it concerns me that my two year old knows what Ice cream and chocolate bars are and it also annoys me that I have to fight her at the checkout of the DIY store (hardware store to you lot!) over the sweets they have on display there. It is not as easy as going to a different one as all DIY stores have a sweet bit by the tills and a soft drink machine, as in fact do many stores.

  40. David

    So reading above, I guess going out for pizza is better than McDonalds? Gee, I didn’t know! Funny thing is I know 2 Weight Watcher/low fat fanatics who will eat at Zaxbys all the time for their grilled chicken salads topped with low or fat free dressing.

  41. Josh

    I know you talked about this in your movie, but I have seen this most time I take my 5 year old daughter to McDonald’s (shhh, don’t tell Children’s Services that I do that). No matter what meal she goes there for, she will eat less than half of it before asking if she can go play in the Playland. Even if I take her there for dessert, she will eat two bites of her sundae before wanting to go play. Most of her food gets thrown out.

    Recently I saw a mother yell at 2 of their kids (there were four of them in all) because they HAD to eat their ice cream before they could play (I literally had to stop myself from laughing when I heard that).

    The conclusion that I have come to is that is that many (maybe most) kids are more interested in playing than they are in their food, even if it is from McDonald’s. McDonald’s seems to be the only fast-food chain to mix their food with a health club, without the muscle heads, outrageous monthly fees and contract.

    My girls rarely finished a Happy Meal.

  42. Lauren

    Some Five Guys will give you what I call a hamburger double down. The put the onions/toppings and cheese in between two hamburger patties and then wrap it in foil. They put the condiments to the side. Sooooo good.

  43. JW

    It’s not like McDs will change their business model because of this, so I don’t get your overreaction.

    Their food isn’t fit for human consumption. Bacteria, other animal species, and fungi won’t touch Mc donalds food. It never decomposes. Proving it’s barely organic matter to begin with.

    People know Mc donalds are bad for you, but do they know exactly why? It makes a big difference to one’s willingness to eat their foul poison if one knows exactly how it’s damaging.

    One of the activist criticisms of Mcdonalds is how notoriously environmentally unfriendly they are. If true, I find it deeply disturbing.

    My view is yes, Mcdonalds has a right to be in business – however the extent to which they damage the planet should be investigated, and people should be informed exactly what chemicals they treat their food with. I heard from the activist leaflet onine, “What’s wrong with Mcdonalds?” That they have 12 added chemicals in even the salad. I wouldn’t feed their burgers to my dog.

    Not everyone who eats there, eats for pleasure to the point of not caring whats in it. Many genuinely don’t know exacty what’s in it, because they don’t tell us everything.

    1. McDonald’s food is no more “unfit for human consumption” than the processed foods people buy in grocery stores, yet the activists always seem to focus their efforts on McDonald’s. Same goes for the “environmentally unfriendly” charge. Do you think monocrop farming of soybeans is good for the environment?

    2. The idea that McDonald’s burgers don’t decompose like “normal” burgers is bogus. They all decompose at the same (slow) rate:

    3. The reason the activists piss me off is that they presume to make choices for other people. They’re what Thomas Sowell calls “the anointed”: people who think they can improve society if only they’re allowed to spend enough of other people’s money or restrict enough of other people’s freedoms. In San Francisco, for example, the anti-McDonald’s hysterics managed to get a law passed making it illegal for McDonald’s to include toys with meals. There is zero evidence that removing toys from Happy Meals will have any effect whatsoever on obesity rates, and yet “the anointed” decided they’d just willy-nilly restrict other people’s freedoms because they personally like the idea. If I want to take my kid to McDonald’s for a meal that includes a toy, it’s none of their @#$%ing business.

  44. Celesta

    You are awesome! Keep doing what you are doing! However, I went to Netflix today to rewatch part of Fat Head and it was no longer available! Will it be back??

    They licensed the previous version for two years. That deal ended a couple of months ago. I’m not sure yet if they’ll go for the updated version.


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