'McDonald's Diet' pitchman will no longer visit schools to tout fast food weight loss plan
John Cisna (Facebook)

The former Iowa science teacher and McDonald's Corp "brand ambassador," who preached the virtues of walking and near-daily french fries in presentations to youth, is no longer visiting U.S. schools, the fast-food chain said on Friday.

The program presented by John Cisna, author of the book "My McDonald's Diet: How I lost 37 pounds in 90 days and became a viral media sensation," was sharply criticized by teachers, parents and public health advocates who accused McDonald's of trying to hook youngsters on unhealthy food.

Cisna's program included a documentary and discussion guide edited by McDonald's, which hired him in 2015 and provides him with a stipend for time and travel related to his speaking engagements. His presentations came shortly after the new CEO of the 60-year-old chain had begun working to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."

"As our brand ambassador, John is focused on internal and local community events, and he is not appearing at schools," McDonald's said in a statement. A McDonald's spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

While some of Cisna's materials can be used for internal and community events, the company said, "none of these materials are currently used in schools."

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Matthew Lewis)