MDPA President to Take the Kid’s Meal Challenge

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Scott Ehrlich will undergo a 28-day diet of only kid’s meals to test health effects

On January 17th, MDPA President Scott Ehrlich began the Kid’s Meal Challenge, where he will consume only kid’s meals thrice a day for 28 days to test the effects of the meals on his health. Ehrlich created this challenge in order to test whether or not kid’s meals actually present a serious danger to children’s health, requiring significant limitation on their marketing.

Throughout 2011, there have been numerous proposals by childhood obesity advocates to ban the advertising of fast food items to children. In San Francisco, a very real step has already been taken, where free toys are no longer included in kid’s meals at fast food restaurants. However, Ehrlich says that if things escalate, and food advertising is to be banned, “a real connection between fast food advertising and harmful effects on children’s health must be shown.”

While Morgan Spurlock has already attempted a similar feat with his 2004 film “Supersize Me,” the difference is that Spurlock was consuming adult meals and had to “supersize” his meal every time he was asked if he wanted the deal. Ehrlich asserts that the daily calorie consumption by Spurlock was so high that “anyone eating 5000 calories per day as he did, be it in fast food or bananas, cereals, or milk, would likely see similar negative effects on their health as what he experienced in that movie.”

For Ehrlich’s challenge, he will consume nothing but kid’s meals for 28 days, three times a day, from January 17th through February 13th. The kid’s meals will come solely from restaurants listed among the top 15 fast food restaurants in sales for 2011 as defined by QSR Magazine. To adjust for the fact that Ehrlich is 6’3” and 225 pounds and the average 8 year-old is not, he will be eating three of these kids meals a day. He also will try not to “game the system” by choosing items that may be offered but would not likely be the first choice of children, such as apple slices, yogurt, or diet sodas.

To further try to get an accurate measure of these health effects, Ehrlich will not adjust his daily routine of physical activity. Outside of what he consumes in those three kid’s meals, he will consume nothing but diet soda and water. He will also post food diaries, pictures, and blog entries on throughout this time period.

Furthermore, as “health” is not synonymous with “weight,” Ehrlich plans to have a full physical, including blood work, both before he starts the diet as well as after he concludes. He will provide his starting weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides.

The results of the Kid’s Meal Challenge will be revealed at the Marketing Disease Prevention and Awareness: Communicating Childhood Obesity Conference, taking Place on March 20-21 in Silver Spring, MD.

While this is not a scientific study, the challenge represents Ehrlich’s curiosity as to the health effects of something deemed by four powerful government agencies as so harmful that even being allowed to view their marketing is so dangerous to our children’s health that it needs to be severely curtailed or banned.

About the MDPA Conference on Communicating Childhood Obesity Policy and Prevention

The MDPA Conference on Communicating Childhood Obesity Prevention and Policy is an event focused solely on how to prevent obesity in future generations. The conference will take place right outside the nation’s capital, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Silver Spring, MD on March 20-21, 2012 and will involve thought leaders from across the nation in strategies to communicate ways to get children to eat healthier to help reverse the obesity epidemic. Confirmed speakers include Jim McGreevy of the American Beverage Association, William H. Dietz, the Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, & Obesity at the CDC, Patti Miller of the Sesame Street Workshop, Robert Post, the Deputy Director at the Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion, Marlene B. Schwartz of the Yale Rudd Center, Dan Jaffe of the National Advertisers Association, and Dr. John Whyte, the Chief Medical Expert at The Discovery Channel.

About Marketing Disease Prevention + Awareness

Marketing Disease Prevention + Awareness began as an offshoot of the established healthcare marketing conference company, DTC Perspectives Inc. in 2009. The goal of the new venture is to discuss how different preventable diseases plaguing the United States can be treated and prevented and how to best communicate these options. Through experience in utilizing vast aspects of media, MDPA has brought together the best thought leaders from the spaces associated with these issues to compose articles, webinars, and present at conferences while keeping the audience well-apprised of important news affecting these areas through digital platforms and e-newsletters. With obesity and obesity-related diseases being among the most discussed and costly, yet treatable, of America’s health issues, this topic is currently the primary focus of MDPA. The organization will continue to assemble the best speakers, case studies, campaigns, and research in this area to help companies, academia, and public health organizations learn to better communicate treatment, education, and prevention options to maximize their effectiveness.


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