•                                               Atelier 3, article 17



    Marc Santora :
    The New Yorrk Times,  November 22, 2002) :

                                      Obesity in America: 2 Overweight Girls Sue McDonald's
                                      NEW YORK Jazlyn Bradley loved her McDonald's Super Sized.
                                      A McMuffin in the morning and the Big Mac meal with an apple
                                      pie in the evening was standard operating procedure.

                                      Ashley Pelman was more of a Happy Meal girl. She liked the
                                      prizes. Bradley is 19 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall (1.6 meters)
                                      and 270 pounds (122 kilograms). Pelman, 14, is 4 foot 10 and
                                      weighs 170.

                                      Now, the two young women are suing the McDonald's Corp. and
                                      the two Bronx, New York., franchises they frequented for
                                      damages related to their obesity.

                                      On Wednesday, a judge in U.S. District Court in Manhattan heard
                                      a motion to dismiss the case presented by lawyers for

                                      The judge, Robert Sweet, has not ruled on the motion, and the
                                      case has yet to reach trial. But the idea of suing McDonald's, and
                                      fast food companies in general, for health problems like obesity
                                      and diabetes that may stem from the consumption of their products
                                      has been an issue of great concern for the industry for months

                                      McDonald's and restaurant industry officials say the women's
                                      lawsuit is the first to find its way into a courtroom.

                                      "Within the industry, it has gotten everyone's attention," said
                                      Steven Anderson, the president of the National Restaurant
                                      Association, which represents 858,000 businesses across the
                                      country, from small cafés to large chains like McDonald's. He said
                                      that while his membership is concerned about such lawsuits, the
                                      organization finds them frivolous.

                                      At the heart of the lawsuit brought by Pelman and Bradley is
                                      whether McDonald's is responsible for their obesity because it did
                                      not provide the necessary information about the health risks
                                      associated with its meals.

                                      If their lawyer, Samuel Hirsch, makes it to trial with the suit, he
                                      hopes to turn it into a class action on behalf of all New York
                                      children under the age of 18 who claim health problems they say
                                      resulted from eating at McDonald's.

                                      The company's lawyers argued on Wednesday that the case did
                                      not even warrant the court's attention, saying the matter was really
                                      about common sense and individual responsibility.

                                      "Every responsible person understands what is in products such as
                                      hamburgers and fries, as well as the consequences to one's
                                      waistline, and potentially to one's health, of excessively eating
                                      those foods over a prolonged period of time," the lawyers wrote in
                                      their motion to have the case dismissed.

                                      Saying this knowledge has been well known for generations, they
                                      quoted Benjamin Franklin ("To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals")
                                      and Henry David Thoreau ("There is a difference between eating
                                      and drinking for strength and for mere gluttony").

                                      But Hirsch said the chain's billion-dollar advertising campaign
                                      encourages children to find their inner glutton. "Young individuals
                                      are not in a position to make a choice after the onslaught of
                                      advertising and promotions," Hirsch said in an interview.

                                      Walt Riker, a spokesman for McDonald's, denied that
                                      McDonald's makes children a target of its advertising. "No one
                                      cares more about kids than McDonald's," he said.

                                      Neither side argues with the fact that America's waistline is
                                      expanding, at a time when a "small" size is a rarity on coffee shop
                                      or fast food menus. According to a study conducted last year by
                                      the surgeon general, 61 percent of Americans are overweight and
                                      14 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19 are overweight - a figure
                                      that has tripled over the last two decades.

                                      Defenders of the fast food industry point to changes in lifestyle that
                                      have made Americans more sedentary, while Hirsch and others
                                      say the problem has more to do with what he called the "supersize
                                      culture" of the fast food industry.

                                      Bradley's order of a Big Mac with Super Size fries and Super Size
                                      Coke contains 1,600 calories. According to the U.S. Department
                                      of Agriculture's dietary guidelines in 2000, the recommended total
                                      daily allowance for older children, including teenage girls, is 2,200

                                      Bradley's father, Israel, said he never saw anything in the
                                      McDonald's restaurants he visited providing information about the
                                      ingredients in the food, according to court documents. "I always
                                      believed McDonald's was healthy for my children," he said in an

                                      Riker said McDonald's makes nutritional information available in a
                                      variety of ways, including brochures and posters and on its Web

                                      On a visit on Wednesday to the McDonald's on Bruckner
                                      Boulevard in the Bronx, one of those named in the lawsuit, the
                                      listing of ingredients in the food could not be found at all.

                                      But patrons did not seem concerned as they ate Big N' Tasty
                                      Burgers washed down with Super Size Cokes. Most said they
                                      found the lawsuit absurd.