Mike Smith, who has type 2 diabetes, was staggered to learn well-known health coach Ben Warren said the grilled chicken option of the controversial burger was "exactly what [type 2 diabetics] need". A press release on the day of the burger's release in New Zealand stated: "Despite all the rage about the KFC Double Down burger, Ben Warren, a health coach from Hawke's Bay, believes the grilled option is the best of the fast-food options out there for type 2 diabetics."
Mr Warren said the Double Down's lack of white bread was "key" to his claims. The white bread bun of a traditional burger had a high glycemic level, which spiked blood sugar levels and was detrimental to type 2 diabetics.
He said the burger - made from two grilled chicken fillets, cheese, bacon and sauce - had a low GI value, causing low blood sugar levels. "So if a diabetic wanted a fast-food option, this is exactly what they need - along with a side of coleslaw or salad so you get a balanced meal," he said.
Mr Smith said he was "blown away" by Mr Warren's comprehension of a balanced meal and how the fatty burger affected a diabetic.
"It's appalling a so-called food coach gets on the band wagon at the expense of diabetics," Mr Smith said. "It's bad health advice. This is like telling a smoker it's okay to smoke as long as you don't inhale."
Hawke's Bay District Health Board dietician Ingrid Perols said a Double Down burger was hardly a balanced meal. "It is high in fat and has a substantial amount of calories," she said. "If Mr Warren was qualified in nutrition, he would understand the term low GI can also mean foods were high in fat and add unnecessary calories - for type 2 diabetics, that is not good advice. "And at $7.90 it was not money well spent for people who may struggle to afford healthy food."
The medical opinions were hardly surprising given the burger, dubbed "a crime against food", had come under fire from nutritionists, chefs and health professionals nationwide since its release this month. While the grilled version of the Double Down had fewer kilojoules and less fat than the original fried recipe, a KFC spokesman confirmed the less-healthy option was more popular.