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KFC-Komen ‘Buckets for the Cure’ campaign raises questions

It doesn’t get much stranger (or more cynical) than this.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has teamed up with KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) to launch a “Buckets for the Cure” fund-raising campaign.

For each $5 bucket (pink!) of fried chicken bought between now and May 23, KFC will donate 50 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The goal is to raise $8.5 million — what the KFC-Komen alliance is calling “the largest single donation to end breast cancer forever.”

Obviously, a laudable goal. Who doesn’t want to “end breast cancer forever”? But do the people at Komen read their own educational materials?

If so, their teaming up with a fast-food franchise is inexplicable.

For, as the Komen site itself acknowledges, “being overweight increases the risk [of breast cancer] by 30 to 60 percent” in postmenopausal women, possibly because enzymes in fat tissue may produce more estrogen, and  that extra estrogen may increase breast-cancer risk. Conversely, as the Komen site also points out, losing weight is associated with a decreased risk: “One large study found that “women who lost four to 11 pounds after menopause had more than a 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose weight did not change.”

It’s hard to lose weight eating fried chicken. I have no idea what’s in a “Bucket for the Cure,” but according to fastfood.com, a single KFC “original recipe” chicken breast has 400 calories and a single “original recipe” chicken thigh has 250.

Not exactly the kind of food that’s going to help you slim down.

I can understand why KFC is eager to be part of a “pink” campaign, particularly when it has  been struggling of late to hold on to its share of the fast-food chicken market.

But I can’t understand why Susan G. Komen for the Cure would team up with KFC, given the confusing health message this sends to women.

As Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a Canadian family physician (who calls himself “an obesity doc and certifiably cynical realist”) wrote on his blog, Weighty Matters (hat tip: HealthNewsReview):

It would be one thing if KFC simply handed over a cheque to Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the amount of $8.5 million — that’d be incredibly generous and welcome. However it’s quite another thing for Susan G. Komen for the Cure to sell their name to KFC and allow them to use it to encourage the consumption of high calorie, high sodium fast food and the promotion of a lifestyle that increases the risk of not only breast cancer, but a myriad of diet and weight related illnesses. That I call reprehensible.

Comments (6)

  1. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 04/20/2010 - 10:20 am.

    It seems so consistent these days that any good must be accompanied by some bad. The health care bill will insure more people, but it retains and extends the power and profits of the skimming insurance companies.

  2. Submitted by Michael Ernst on 04/20/2010 - 10:31 am.

    Would you prefer a “Double Down for the Cure” campaign? :o)


  3. Submitted by Karl Bremer on 04/20/2010 - 12:12 pm.

    Doesn’t anyone remember when world-famous open-heart surgeon Dr. John Najarian opened the first local Popeye’s chicken franchise in 1988?


  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/20/2010 - 12:32 pm.

    “a single KFC “original recipe” chicken breast has 400 calories and a single “original recipe” chicken thigh has 250. Not exactly the kind of food that’s going to help you slim down.”

    No, not if you sit down and consume the entire bucket by yourself. Where did the idea that freedom needed to be carefully managed on the front end? How about a little restraint where the rubber meets the road?

    That being said, “KFC” isn’t the Kentucky Fried Chicken I remember as a kid. Personally, I wouldn’t eat the flavorless, fatty substance they claim was a chicken at one time if it was 0 calories.

  5. Submitted by Paul Scott on 04/20/2010 - 05:20 pm.

    I think this really sums up what the whole “raise awareness” industry has come to, an opportunity for corporate synergy, plain and simple, a way to take your brand and merge it with some not quite as bucketofchickenian as thee. I’m surprised they didn’t offer to donate extea if you bought a breast.

  6. Submitted by Gregory Lang on 04/24/2010 - 03:06 am.

    Hey! Abbot-Northwestern Hospital has a MCDonalds with a Redbox $1 DVD rental kiosk! The Popeyes is still on Lake Street. The only Popeyes for several hundred miles!

    The entire “raise awareness” works on the premise that because we are a “prudish” society no one is aware that diseases like breast cancer actually exist! Perhaps before feminism and Betty Ford but that is thirty to forty years ago! Since then we have been bombarded with mentions of it. The trouble is most of the information is bad (IE: 1 in 3 women will get breast cancer). The tipping point would have been the NFL games last year where players wore pink shoes during the game. It had the “flavor” of the old “wear our AID ribbon or you are a homophobic!”.

    That said, breast cancer is a serious issue with women having a one in thirteen demographical lifetime risk.

    That said, a pattern in the evolution of many non-profits is that as they mature they focus on fundraising for it’s own sake and have very high executive salaries, benefits and retirement plans. Who can forget the United Way National head making six million a year, getting a huge pension and sending his mistress to Paris repeatedly on the Concorde on the United Way’s “dime?

    I would say that the Susan G Kholman foundation compensation package needs scrutiny. Beyond nutritional aspects KFC tie in seems ripe for punditry since one of the more “healthy” KFC product lines are chicken breasts.

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