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No more Super Size choices at McD's!

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Old 03-03-2004, 12:27 PM   #1
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Default No more Super Size choices at McD's!

Wow...just saw this on the news today...

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Originally posted by Reuters
CHICAGO - McDonald's Corp. plans to remove oft-criticized Super Size french fries and soft drinks by the end of the year, part of broader plans to simplify its menu and offer choices that appeal to consumers' heightened concerns about health.

McDonald's, the world's largest fast-food company, said on Wednesday it is making the changes to "support a balanced lifestyle" strategy. They come as the company and many of its rivals move to offer foods that diverge from traditional fatty fast-food fare, including more entree-sized salads, chicken sandwiches, fruit and milk for children.

The Super Size option, a seven-ounce fries carton and 42-ounce drink, has been targeted by critics as part of the cause of a growing obesity crisis in the United States.

McDonald's said in a prepared statement that drinks will still be available as a promotional option.

The Super Size fries contain 610 calories, 29 grams of fat, 390 milligrams of sodium and 77 grams of carbohydrates, according to analysts.
Good move on McDonald's part IMO. BTW, I know the question will come up: "What's the big deal - people will just ask for two orders of fries". There's a book about McDonald's that was published in the 80's titled "McDonalds - Behind the Arches" by Donald Love (well worth reading, but then again I'm one of those people who enjoys reading that sort of stuff). I don't have the book in front of me so I'm paraphrasing here...but basically during the late 60s/early 70's it was suggested that McDonald's introduce a large order of fries to the menu. Ray Kroc (head honcho of McD's and the driving force behind the growth of the chain from one restaurant in San Bernardino to the worldwide organization it became - not the founder though) was against the idea, saying "if the customer wants more fries, they can order two bags". However, research back then showed that customers didn't WANT to order two bags, because they didn't want to look greedy.

Just FYI...
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Old 03-03-2004, 01:18 PM   #2
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I heard about this too - very interesting. I remember when what they call a "small" drink today was considered large! Same thing for the fries and everything else.

One only needs to travel to Europe (or probably almost anywhere else in the world) to see that American portion sizes are waaaaaaaay out of control.

Have you heard of the film, "Supersize Me: A Film of Epic Proportions"? It won Best Director at Sundance this year, and I guess will be distributed in the Spring. The director of the film, Morgan Spurlock, lived on nothing but McDonald's for 30 days. The film chronicles the effect on his mind and body. Looks interesting, and will probably be the last straw for me as far as fast food is concerned.

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Old 03-03-2004, 01:38 PM   #3
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It's about time! I wish all the other fast food chains would do the same...
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Old 03-03-2004, 02:03 PM   #4
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Y'all know they will. When McDonald's started offering supersize, then Wendy's followed with Biggie Size, Burger King called it King-sized or some other such nonsense. They all followed each other, just like Mickey and BK followed Wendy's with the addition of the $.99 Value Menu and the different salad offerings. I just wonder how long it will take the others to follow.
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Old 03-03-2004, 02:20 PM   #5
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Okay, I don’t mean to be the lone dissenting voice here, BUT . . .

I know what a temptation super-size can be, but shouldn’t it be irrelevant whether McD’s sells them or not? I mean, for someone who commits to eating well, it shouldn’t really matter even if McDonald’s perpetually offers “buy one, get one free” Big Macs.

I guess I’m just very leery of the food police out there (most recently, the trial lawyers who want to make a buck encouraging victim-hood) who seem to be sending the message that “it’s not your fault” to overweight people. I think that in order to lose weight permanently, everyone needs to accept responsibility for what he/she eats and whether or not he/she exercises. I choose what to put in my mouth. I choose whether to get off my butt and exercise or sit in front of the TV and veg out. I can’t blame McD’s or anyone else for that.

What I’m more concerned about are other food issues that the media seems to ignore, like the ubiquity of artery-clogging hydrogenated oils in just about everything we eat. I never really paid attention to it until recently, and I was shocked that HOs are in nearly everything! Yesterday, my sister looked at some garlic powder she had bought (McCormick’s, I think) and even that contained hydrogenated oil. To me, this is a greater health risk because people are unaware of it and oftentimes don’t have a choice of whether or not to eat it because it’s in almost everything.

I hope you guys don’t think I’m being argumentative, but this touched a nerve with me. I respect others’ opinions about it, but I just view it a little differently, I guess.
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Old 03-03-2004, 03:32 PM   #6
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Vmelo - I agree with you. There is the tendency in this country to take on the roll of victim in regards to our own health. The director of that film knew when he ate nothing except McDonald's that he would get gain weight...he was trying to make a point...but it seems like an obvious point that doesn't really need to be shown for people to know it. McDonald's is unhealthy and everyone knows that...It's up to them whether or not the eat it.
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Old 03-03-2004, 03:59 PM   #7
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A few thoughts on this issue:

I completely believe in taking responsibility for *all* of life's decisions, including eating.

Nobody forces you to choose to eat that Big Mac instead of a salad, for example. And I also think that even McDonald's food can be part of a balanced diet in REASONABLE quantities. The problem is that food industry marketing has convinced people that value = huge portion. Our sense of what constitutes a serving has gotten so far out of whack and most people probably don't even stop to think about it as they shovel down a plate of pasta that could serve 2 or 3 people. And for years now, it's been a profitable strategy for McDonald's and other fast food chains to push the value = huge portion mentality.

Now that the growing epidemic (pun intended) of obesity has achieved an unprecedented level of public awareness, McDonald's is simply switching strategies and hoping that their gamble will pay off. If it does, we'll likely see the other chains following suit as Tiki pointed out.

As for the movie, the fact that the point is obvious doesn't discount the potential entertainment value. I know eating McDonald's for 30 days straight is not good for you, but I will still go see the film because I want to see what happens when someone actually *does* that.

Speaking of fast food, I had one of the new Subway salads for lunch. I am not impressed, and will go to eating the wraps.

S., clearly in work avoidance mode
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Old 03-03-2004, 04:42 PM   #8
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I think that adults are responsible for what we put in our mouths but the elimination of the Supersize I believe will benefit teens and kids. My mom stressed a healthy diet to an extent, but if I was at Mickey D's with my girlfriends and my own money I was definitely getting the supersize cause I liked fries, it was a good deal and as most kids do, I didn't give a thought to what that habit would do to my health in later years. The food industry, especially fast food and stuff marketed towards kids and teens should take more responsibility in what they put on the shelf, how they market, etc.

MTC Tiki.
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Old 03-03-2004, 08:02 PM   #9
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These are some interesting points. I think they ought to put us ladies on Oprah or something to debate this issue!
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Old 03-04-2004, 07:40 PM   #10
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Our sense of what constitutes a serving has gotten so far out of whack and most people probably don't even stop to think about it as they shovel down a plate of pasta that could serve 2 or 3 people.

Exactly! This is why I get really impatient with the food lobbyists' blaming America's obesity (esp that of children) on "inadequate exercise". While I would never discount the importance of exercise in maintaining a healthy weight, I believe the type and quantity of the food we eat is much more at fault.

Think about it...how many of our parents or grandparents joined a gym or indeed did regular exercise beyond golf or bowling? And yes, they did more manual labor but I think a lot of that is now offset by the recreational sports that people over 18 now do that they never did 50 or 100 years ago. And while I spent much of my childhood outdoors (easier done in the south) I also watched my share of afternoon and evening teevee, albeit without 200 cable channels. I strongly feel that the high amount of processed carbs along with the previously mentioned hydrogenated fats are the major culprits in obesity. I think it's way too simple to just say "oh kids just sit in front of computers or TVs now" . And there is no immensely powerful lobby advertising veggies, fruit and whole grains on TV is there? I never even see milk commercials anymore.

I really think that this mindset of placing most of the blame on "not enough activity" will soon go the way of "only eating fat makes you fat".
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Old 03-04-2004, 07:55 PM   #11
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Personally, I'm waiting for the day Wendy's stops carrying their "Biggie" line of fries/drinks/etc. Remember those commercials they ran in the 1990's featuring the "Big Eaters Club" - a lot of obese people who lauded praise for Wendy's huge portions for little prices?

And the kids...I know that many kids go to McDonald's on their own with money that they got from their parents to 'buy lunch'. It disturbed me to see them start offering a "Mighty Kid's Meal". Actually from what I've seen kids (and I'm talking about 7-8 year olds) order, the Mighty Kids Meal would be an improvement. I've seen WAY too many 'kids' order a supersized value meal as a lunch. Back when I was that age, McDonald's was a treat that we got occasionally. The four of us girls would split two orders of fries (there was only the one size back then) and two shakes between four courtesy cups, and we'd each get a hamburger for ourselves. We didn't ask for more nor expect it.

I'm sure that McD's isn't doing this purely out of concern for the nation's health; regardless, I appalud the action
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Old 03-04-2004, 08:01 PM   #12
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Speaking of...here's an article written by Michael Fumento back in 1997. Still relevant today...

http://www.fumento.com/homer.html

Quote:
Attack of the Giant Killer Food
By Michael Fumento
Copyright 1997 by Michael Fumento



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For Homer Simpson or a cliché cop, it's a dream. I have before me a doughnut just smaller than a dinner plate, many times larger than the current average American doughnut that in turn is larger than doughnut sizes from two decades ago. And while this preposterous pastry might seem like a dream to some, dinosaur doughnuts are representative of one of the major causes of a growing American nightmare.

We are the fattest people on earth.

We are suffering an epidemic of obesity. An estimated 300,000 Americans a year die from obesity-related causes. Obesity greatly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other diseases that kill, along with a host of diseases that don't kill but can make life miserable.

For example, a 5'4" woman who is merely 44 pounds overweight doubles her risk of breast cancer and more than doubles her risk of the most common form of stroke. You may have heard the expression "fat, but fit." Sorry, but there's no such animal.

There's more bad news. Our eating and exercise habits have made Americans the fattest people on earth. Fifteen years ago, a fourth of us were considered obese. Now it's a third. Three-fourths of us are heavier than optimum health allows.

And no, it's not just doughnuts doing us in. Monster muffins are now commonly sold in sizes seven times larger than they once were. The original McDonald's hamburger, bun included, weighed 3.7 ounces. Then came the Quarter Pounder at six ounces and the Big Mac at 7.6 ounces. The recently introduced Arch Deluxe tips the scale at almost nine ounces.

The Green Burrito chain sells its namesake in three-pound portions, while Little Caesar's boasts pizzas it claims are "bigger than the sun." It's only a slight exaggeration.

By one estimate, nearly 25% of the $97 billion American consumers spent on fast food in 1995 went for items promoted on the basis of larger size or extra ingredients.

All You Can Eat (and Then Some)

But fast food, just like doughnuts, is only part of the obesity equation. The Cheesecake Factory restaurants heap pasta helpings so high that Sir Edmund Hillary would have trouble climbing to the top, and even makers of the Lean Cuisine, whose meals presumably are for people watching their weight, have introduced new hefty portions that are 50 percent larger.

More ominous yet is the tremendous growth in steakhouses. In 1995, two of the top 20 fastest-growing chain restaurants were steakhouses. These restaurants commonly sell porterhouses at 28 ounces, not to mention the accompanying french fries or potato with globs of sour cream and butter. At new Brazilian steakhouses that are springing up, you're not even limited to that. For $15.99 or so you can just keep eating meat until your belly-button pops out and hits a busboy in the eye.

GIANT FOODS COMPARISON

Item Maker of Giant Size Calories in Giant Size Calories in Regular Size
Muffins Local shop 705 158
Steak and fries Outback Steakhouse 2,060 730
Cookie Local shop 493 65
Ice cream cone Local shop 625 160
Nachos Local shop 1,650 569
Cinnamon bun Cinnabon Inc. 800 109
Hot dog Oscar Mayer 350 150
Fast-food meal McDonald's* 1,310 680
*Specialty meal comprising a bacon double cheeseburger, supersize fries & a 32-ounce soda
Table Source: Prevention Magazine


Drink sizes are also skyrocketing. The original Coca-Cola bottles held six ounces. Then it jumped to eight ounces, then 16, and now bottles from machines offer 20 ounces of carbonated pleasure. By contrast, standard bottles in Europe hold about eight ounces.

Many convenience stores in the United States now sell drinks in bucket-size, 64-ounce cups that pack more than 800 calories. One wonders if the lids are to keep the contents from spilling or the consumer from accidentally falling in.

Portions of Massive Proportions

If you're pondering why Americans are so much fatter than Europeans, look no further than portion sizes. Consider a popular European chocolate bar, the Ballisto. It comes in only one size: 20 grams. The regular American Butterfinger weighs three times as much – and that wasn't enough for Americans, so Nestle came out with the "king size" Butterfinger that is more than 50 percent larger.

Even this didn't satisfy American appetites, so Nestle created the aptly named "Butterfinger Beast." At seven times the size of a Ballisto, it's a wonder some cities haven't outlawed them as lethal weapons.

Europeans are painfully aware of our obsession with outlandish serving sizes of food. "It doesn't take much expertise to figure out the story behind the [obesity] statistics," said British writer William Langley. "By the comparatively restrained standards of the rest of the world, American portion sizes border on the obscene."

"They train the stomach to expect a big meal and to cope with a big meal," added Andrew Prentice, a nutritionist at Britain's Medical Research Council.

Quantity not Quality

"In Europe, people have a sense of satisfaction with good food, and they don't tend to overeat," said Martha Rose Shulman, a cookbook author who recently moved to the United States from France. Europeans look more for quality in food. But to Americans, quantity has a quality all its own.

7-Eleven shouldn't be selling 64-ounce drinks. That sends all the wrong signals. If people need 64 ounces of soda (and somehow they never used to), let them buy two cups at 32 ounces.

Penny-wise and Pound Foolish

On the other hand, there have been no reported cases of a 7-Eleven employee forcing a customer to buy such a drink, and nobody is forced to eat 28-ounce steaks at gunpoint.

So why do we do it?

Part of the reason is that oversize portions of food are cheaper by the ounce than smaller portions. We are literally penny-wise and pound-foolish.

But perhaps the main reason for this American obsession is that it provides an excuse to pig out. After all, it's just one burger – even if it could feed the population of a small African town for a week.

In this era of self-indulgence, in which traditional values are sneered at, we have replaced the motto "everything in moderation" with "nothing succeeds like excess." Terms like "sloth" and "glutton" sit behind the barn with the rusty old Studebaker.

The obesity epidemic is symptomatic of a much larger national problem, and solving it is going to take changes in society that go way beyond food.
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Old 03-04-2004, 09:18 PM   #13
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i'm just playing with a few thoughts here... trying to figure out how all this happened. corporate greed? not sure. after all, corporations make profits by giving people what they want. or perhaps more accurately, what people THINK they want. and corporations are experts at creating a need that wasn't there before!

are these portions part of our 'land of plenty' delusion? or do we as a country use food that's eaten outside of the home as a reward, and we therefore think we're not properly rewarded with something SMALL? in many cultures, being hospitable means providing huge amounts of food. i grew up in an italian family, and remember those enormous sunday dinners that went on for hours. but everyone ate just a little of everything.

or are we just plain greedy? or is there something missing in our lives as a society that we're trying to fill??

it's an interesting problem.

i know a french chef who serves HUGE amounts of food... when i first started eating in his restaurant, he was concerned about how little i ate [and then i explained the whole surgery thing]. and he smiled and said that i was far more european than american. he said that he grew up eating small amounts of good food, and when he tried to serve those smaller portions, his customers complained bitterly.

<sigh> we have a lot of work to do as a society. and it shouldn't involve the food police.

and i'm glad McD's going to be changing their menu. those of us who are concerned aobut what we're eating still have the same busy schedule as everyone else and it would be nice to have access to good food on a fast food schedule with all those locations.
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Old 03-05-2004, 11:25 AM   #14
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Whew! This article was in today's Chronicle - IMO it goes hand in hand with this topic.

Quote:
Kids today quicker to add pounds
30-year Iowa study follows 2 generations

Carl T. Hall, Chronicle Science Writer
Friday, March 5, 2004
©2004 San Francisco Chronicle | Feedback | FAQ


URL: sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/03/05/MNGQE5F1JN1.DTL


Teenagers are putting on the pounds at more than twice the rate their parents did at the same age, scientists reported Thursday in a study suggesting that genes have little to do with the fattening of America's youth.

Researchers gathered in San Francisco for an American Heart Association conference on cardiovascular disease prevention disclosed a host of study results, many of them pointing to familiar culprits driving the weight gains being seen in young people today.

In terms the kids might understand, it all boiled down to this: hella too much food, especially the kind that isn't good for you, and hella not enough exercise.

Some of the key findings were drawn from a large, continuing effort to track the health of residents from a small Iowa town. They have been followed for more than 30 years, from adolescence into adulthood.

The early study subjects from Muscatine, Iowa, now have children of their own, allowing a rare opportunity to look at childhood health during the era of pet rocks and disco dancing compared with the health of youngsters now hooked on computer games and fast food.

The results aren't pretty.

Dr. Patricia Davis, a neurologist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, looked at the body mass index, or BMI -- a standard obesity measure that incorporates height as well as weight -- of 518 original study participants compared with 228 of their offspring.

The elders were between the ages of 15 and 18 when tracked from 1971 to 1981 as the study began. The offspring were evaluated between 2001 and 2003, when they were about the same age as their parents in the 1970s.

For boys, the average BMI went from 23.0 in the 1970s to 24.2 in 2003. The weight gain was more pronounced for girls, rising from 21.9 to 24.4. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 for both sexes is considered to be normal. (For more details on the body mass index, and to calculate your own, go to www.cdc. gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/calc-bmi.htm.)

What was most dramatic was how the younger group added weight at a much faster rate. The 1970s teens increased their BMI 0.44 per year of age on average during that decade. By comparison, the offspring at the same age are gaining on average 1.1 a year on the BMI scale.

The short duration of the most recent study period means a direct comparison will have to wait a few more years. Also, such unpublished data at a medical meeting have not yet been subjected to extensive peer review, and so the details could change significantly with closer analysis.

But Davis said it was clear there was a huge disparity in the rate of weight gain between then and now, a surprising gap she said was already being linked to higher blood pressure and other health woes of today's youth.

"We expected they would be heavier, but we weren't expecting to see they were gaining weight this much faster than their parents were in their teenage years," she said.

The Iowans may differ in some respects from, say, kids in California, with our much larger numbers of ethnic minorities and recent arrivals from Asia and Latin America. But Davis said she saw no reason to think the Muscatine teens, either then or now, differed markedly from West Coast youngsters on basic health markers.

"I can't say (the Iowans) are representative of all teenagers, but there's nothing special about these teenagers," she said.

The basic message appears to be universally applicable, and largely common sense: Kids are getting fatter regardless how fat their parents were, and that is not a good thing.

"Our concern is that if we don't react to this and get the younger children more physically active and eating a healthier diet, we are going to see some pretty serious consequences in our health care system down the road," Davis said.

Another set of data at the heart-health conference pointed out some of the likely reasons fueling youthful obesity.

Lynn Moore, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at Boston University, looked at the diets of 106 families with at least one child between the ages of 3 and 5 when the research began. The research is part of the famed Framingham children's health study.

One to four times a year for 12 years, the children and their caregivers filled out detailed three-day diaries listing everything they had consumed, including portions, brands and recipes. The children were also checked regularly for body fat and filled out questionnaires to measure their activity levels.

The results released Thursday suggest that adolescent girls in particular have cut back significantly on their intake of dairy products and healthy home- cooked meals while increasing consumption of soda pop, prepackaged meals and fast-food takeout.

The new study showed that girls seem to be consuming fewer dairy products than boys, setting the girls up for trouble as they age and their bones become prone to weakening.

"Their intake declined more in adolescence than the declines we saw for boys," Moore said. "Part of that is the increase in soda consumption. Part of it is because some adolescent girls believe dairy products make them fat. But there's no evidence in this study that dairy products make you fat."

The researchers found that children who adhered to a moderate fat intake, between 30 and 35 percent of total daily calories, were leaner and healthier than those consuming either low-fat or high-fat diets.

More flab may seem a logical result of eating too much fat -- or too much of anything. The link between low-fat diets and childhood obesity was more complicated.

Moore said it appeared to have something to do with an increase in carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates are quickly metabolized. As a result, the kids getting too little fat seemed to be gulping down carbohydrates and lots of empty calories to compensate, messing up their fat storage and getting hungry too quickly between meals.

"So, in the end, they may over-consume," Moore said.
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Old 03-05-2004, 02:24 PM   #15
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You know, it seems like EVERYTHING in America has gotten bigger (but not necessarily better) over the past couple of decades. Consider:

---Houses: my childhood home was about 1800 square feet and included two parents, two kids, and a cat. We never ever felt cramped. Nowadays, the suburbs are littered with McMansions well over 3000 square feet with the same size or even smaller families living in them.

---Vehicles: again, back in the 1970's my parents carted us kids, all of our crap, groceries, etc. in a station wagon. Today's station wagons have been rebranded as "SUV's" and there are models out there that are as big as a house.

I'm not making value judgements here but simply observing. Anyone else notice anything that has gotten bigger and bigger over time?

S.
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