Can KFC Fatwash Its Obesity Image?

KFC says that it wants to help you lose weight with its new Kentucky Grilled Menu.

As part of its parent corporation (Yum Brands) Keep It Balanced initiative, KFCs new healthy menu offers “the same great taste of KFC without all that fat, sodium or calories”.

“It’s marinated, seasoned with KFCs famous secret herbs and spices, and then slow roasted to juicy perfection”.

mmmmmmmmmmmmm good.

Unfortunately, while the Colonel was busy cooking up this amazing new menu, Yum Brands, was quietly lobbying the Kentucky state government to expand the food stamp program to include fast food restaurants.

And that’s where their good corporate citizen act starts to fall apart.

  • Kentucky is the seventh fattest state in the nation.
  • Over 60% of the residents of Louisville, its largest city, are clinically overweight.
  • The city is spending millions in non-profit and federal government grants in an attempt to make the city more fitness friendly.
  • Anti-obesity / pro-health community groups are popping up all over the city
  • Metro Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer recently announced the creation of a Food Policy Advisory Council funded in part by an $7.9 million federal grant to combat obesity and promote wellness.

It’s pretty obvious that the community and all levels of government are interested in making Kentuckians leaner & healthier.

I’m not so sure about Yum / KFC / Taco Bell anymore.

  • Does it make sense to have the state change laws in order to increase access to fast food for the very demographic with the highest levels of obesity?


  • Does it make sense for fast food companies like KFC to create healthier menu items in response to public opinion and government legislation?


  • Does it make sense for fast food companies to fatwash their business practices by creating healthier menus while simultaneously trying to lobby government into changing laws to increase access to fast food for the very demographic with the highest levels of obesity?

YES…as long as no one finds out about it.


p.s. – Fatwashing is the same thing as greenwashing, except you exchange obesity for environment

p.p.s. - Greenwashing is the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company’s policies or products are environmentally friendly

Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

5 thoughts on “Can KFC Fatwash Its Obesity Image?

  • June 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Following what Bob said, companies like KFC and Wal Mart and McDonalds and Coca-Cola have bad reputations when it comes to selling healthy products and environmentally positive products, etc…

    And while those reputations may be well deserved, it’s these mega corporations that are needed to make significant change in our society.

    Small scale food producers and retail stores simply don’t have the impact these giants have.

    So, as much as I LOVE to make fun of the hypocrisy of KFC et al, if 1 in 10 KFC customers buys the grilled chicken instead of the fried chicken, the positive impact on American obesity would be greater than 100 new health food restaurants opening up for business.

    It’s the same thing with Wal Mart putting more organics on their shelves. They’re not going to stop selling crap, but their sales numbers are so huge, even a small shift towards organic has a big impact cross the nation

  • June 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    KFC has a new special: upgrade to an XL soda and they’ll donate to Type 1 Diabetes. I wish I was kidding

  • June 16, 2011 at 3:38 am

    I actually read that in the UK then KFC is one of the most responsible fried chicken shops and have cut down hugely on sodium in their food – but they still have the worst reputation because they are the brand that everyone knows about.


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