05/03/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Weight Watchers Teams Up With McDonald's, Angering Nutritionists

Anti-obesity campaigners have hit out against plans by Weight Watchers to team up with McDonald's.

The deal, which is taking place in New Zealand, will involve the weight watchers logo being placed on the packaging of three McDonald's meals - Chicken McNuggets, Filet-O-Fish and Sweet Chilli Seared Chicken Wrap.

Under the Weight Watchers plan, dieters are allowed to consume 18 to 40 points a day. The three meals at McDonald's, which also include a salad and water or a diet soft drink, are each worth 6.5 points on this scale.

Chris Stirk, Weight Watchers' director of business in Australia and New Zealand, said the partnership showed "part of our philosophy that you can enjoy life ... while still achieving your weight loss goals".

The managing director for McDonald's in New Zealand described the deal as a "noble cause", and told reporters, "We're making the best effort to generate a change in our behavior, to create an awareness in consumers about making healthy choices."

However, obesity campaigners complain the deal is a marketing ploy.

"It's all about sales really," Australian Obesity Policy Coalition senior adviser Jane Martin said. "It implies this food is healthy ... when often it is high in fat and salt. Chicken McNuggets are Chicken McNuggets whether its got Weight Watchers on it or not."

Boyd Swinburn of the Australian Society for the Study of Obesity, said, "Mum can go in and feel good about her Weight Watchers meal while she buys the kids burgers. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive."