|To: 2MAR$ who wrote (251)||1/29/2003 3:37:54 AM|
|McDonald's Suit May Be Only First Nibble|
By Ilaina Jonas
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit blaming McDonald's Corp. for obesity in children is no cause for celebration by the fast-food king, legal experts say.
"It wasn't as simple as one, two, three," said Victor Schwartz, head of the public policy group of the law firm Shook, Hardy and Bacon, and general counsel of the American Tort Reform Association.
Judge Robert Sweet, of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York, dismissed the suit last week, saying it failed to show that patrons at the world's largest fast-food chain were unaware that eating too much McDonald's fare could be unhealthy.
But Sweet left open the door for plaintiffs--including a 400-pound teenager who said he eats at McDonald's every day--to refile the case, with guidance on how the suit might be strengthened.
"We remain confident," McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa Howard said. "And we believe the facts will prevail. Any effort to resurrect this frivolous lawsuit will ultimately end up being rejected by the court."
New York attorney Samuel Hirsch, whose firm represented the young plaintiffs, last summer filed suit against four major fast-food chains on behalf of 5-foot-10-inch, 272-pound Caesar Barber, who claimed they contributed to his obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Indeed, with obesity and its related illnesses at near-epidemic levels in the United States, some lawyers say super-size lawsuits--like those citing asbestos, tobacco or firearms--may be in the offing.
NOT OVER YET
Several legal watchers said Sweet's decision suggests that plaintiffs could pursue the negligence charge by concentrating on the way McDonald's processes some of its products, such as Chicken McNuggets or fries.
"I think what the judge was doing was tipping his hand and saying this argument could have some merit," said Albert Yoon, assistant professor at Northwestern University School of Law.
"For instance, Chicken McNuggets, rather than being merely chicken fried in a pan, are a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook," Sweet wrote in his opinion.
"If plaintiffs were able to flesh out this argument in an amended complaint," the judge wrote, "it may establish that the dangers of McDonald's products were not commonly well known, and thus that McDonald's had a duty toward its customers."
"We can go in with the chicken, the French fries," said John Banzhaf III, a George Washington University Law professor who has been working since last year on a connection between obesity and the litigation.
"I'm pretty much sure we can dig up others...he's given us a road map on possible addiction," said Banzhaf, who advocates putting a "fat tax" on food that could be used to offset the cost of health problems society is likely to incur.
As a judge, Sweet has often stated his belief that individuals are responsible for their own actions when they have sufficient information to make those decisions--even when it comes to drugs.
Banzhaf, in an effort to coordinate lawsuits involving the food industry and obesity, last year hosted a meeting with public health and legal experts, including Professor Richard Daynard, chairman of the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Hirsch, who attended a subsequent meeting, then put aside the action involving Barber and brought suit against McDonald's on behalf of the children. Hirsch, whose office said he was on vacation, was not available for comment.
"That eliminated, to a large extent, this argument that they're adults and know what they are doing," Banzhaf said.
Banzhaf said he and his group also plan to target schools that have allowed McDonald's and other fast-food providers and soda manufacturers into their cafeterias in return for some of the proceeds.
THE PEOPLE WILL DECIDE
Whatever the fate of the most recent case, some say fast-food and other food manufacturers must proceed with caution, as much of their future depends on the public's opinion.
"The law tends to follow society in developing and identifying the most important issues of the day," said William McKenna, a partner in the litigation department of Foley and Lardner.
It took 25 years before asbestos and lead paint liability cases, which involve some of the costliest class-action suits in history, gained their first victories, McKenna said.
And the first 55 suits against tobacco-product manufacturers were dismissed, Schwartz said.
However, similar cases, such as those seeking to link the responsibility of gun manufacturers and violence, are yet to be successful in courts, McKenna pointed out.
One of the greatest threats facing the food industry is from the state attorneys general, who 4 years ago won a $206 billion settlement from tobacco companies for smoking-related healthcare costs.
Such suits would remove two huge stumbling blocks that appear when individuals sue: that the person knew that eating too much fast food could result in health problems and that the food itself was a direct cause of such problems.
"I do not believe an attorney general will bring such a suit now, because the industry is too popular," Schwartz said.
He said fast-food restaurants "do the same behavioral thing I would have done if I had lost the case," including providing ingredient and content information and educational programs on healthy eating.
"If they are perceived by the public (as) being indifferent to health concerns," he said, "some actions could arrive in the future."
Americans are said to spend more than $100 billion on fast food each year.
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|To: ms.smartest.person who wrote (246)||2/13/2003 8:28:00 AM|
|McDonald's January Same-Store Sales Show Further Slippage|
Wednesday February 12, 7:28 pm ET
By Richard Gibson
DES MOINES, Iowa -- McDonald's Corp.'s hamburger business worsened in January from a year earlier, figures released by the fast-food giant late Wednesday showed.
In reporting monthly same-store sales results for the first time, the company said those for what it calls "Brand McDonald's," its primary business, fell 2.4% . For the fourth quarter of last year comparable sales were down 1.9%, and for all of 2002 they were off 2.1%, as measured in constant currencies.
Comparable sales represent the change in sales from the same period a year earlier for restaurants operating at least 13 months. The figure is regarded by the industry as a key measurement of a chain's performance.
McDonald's also said that systemwide sales -- those at all of its restaurants world-wide -- rose 5% to $3.3 billion last month. The company's news release didn't indicate how many new restaurants accounted for the increase.
Slippage in January's same-store sales occurred in most of McDonald's world. Only Latin America showed an increase, although total sales from that market were off 27%, apparently reflecting the closure of underperforming units and the company's exit from several countries.
U.S. comparable sales were off 0.5% in January, while those in Europe dropped 3.8%. The Asia/Pacific/Mideast/Africa market saw a 7.2% decline while Canada incurred a 2.7.% drop.
There was no commentary on the results.
But Chairman and Chief Executive James Cantalupo said in the release that McDonald's would "continue to discuss the factors behind these trends quarterly in conjunction with the release of our earnings."
January systemwide sales by major market were: U.S., $1.55 billion, Europe $ 889.8 million, Asia/Pacific/Mideast/Africa $580.5 million, Latin America $102.8 million and Canada $108.8 million. Brand McDonald's systemwide sales totaled $ 3.2 billion, up from $3.1 billion.
Sales at McDonald's "Partner Brands," which include Chipotle Mexican Grill, Boston Market, Donatos Pizza and a stake in Pret A Manger, totaled $80 million last month, compared with $76.1 million a year earlier.
The company also reported several figures from its year-end balance sheet. It said total assets were $24 billion (compared with $22.5 billion at the end of 2001), debt totaled $10 billion (compared with $8.9 billion a year earlier) and shareholders' equity was $10.3 billion (compared with $9.5 billion in 2001.)
Its operations last year generated $2.9 billion in cash, which went to build and reinvest in restaurants, pay $297 million in dividends and repurchase $687 million of its stock. Capital spending totaled $2 billion, McDonald's said.
-Richard Gibson; Dow Jones Newswires
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|To: 2MAR$ who wrote (253)||3/12/2003 12:58:54 PM|
|While not a lover of MCD food, I'd sure love to see whoever did this & other like actions caught & ... Don't ya just hate these sort of idiots.|
Molotov cocktails used in early morning restaurant fires
Fire damage at an Arby's restaurant at Central & Tulane early Tuesday
Last Update: 03/11/2003 13:58:12
Albuquerque firefighters say Molotov cocktails were used to fire bomb three fast food restaurants early Tuesday morning.
The fires occurred at an Arby's restaurant at Central and Tulane, a McDonald's at Central and Tramway and another McDonald's at Central and Yale.
All three fires broke out around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The businesses were closed at the time. No one was injured in any of the fires.
Fire investigators say someone intentionally set the fires in all three cases. Evidence of a Molotov cocktail, or petrol bomb, was found at the fire scenes.
Police are currently looking for suspects in the case.
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|To: TimF who wrote (255)||3/12/2003 8:01:04 PM|
|12th consecutive monthly drop in sales ...|
(I'd say that makes it an official trend )
McDonald's reported a same-store sales drop of 7.5 percent in its Asia Pacific/Middle East region, its third-largest market. In a change from its January report, the company did not provide sales trends for Canada or Latin America.
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|To: 2MAR$ who wrote (256)||1/28/2004 1:16:18 PM|
|From: Wyätt Gwyön|
|Film records effects of eating only McDonald's for a month |
25.01.2004 12.00pm - By DAVID USBORNE
NEW YORK - Normally sane actors have been known to gain or lose huge amounts of weight for their art. Think of Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary. Directors, of course, never have to undergo such torture. Or so it used to be, until Morgan Spurlock had a bright idea for a film project.
The first clue to his particular misery comes in the title of his documentary, which has become the darling of this year's Sundance Film Festival. It is called Super Size Me: A Film of Epic Portions and it is a sometimes comic but serious look at America's addiction to fast food.
Spurlock, a tall New Yorker of usually cast-iron constitution, made himself the guinea pig in this dogged investigation into the effects of fast food on the body. He ate only at McDonald's for a month - three meals, every day - and took a camera crew along to record it. If a server offered to super-size his order, he was obliged to accept - and to ingest everything, gherkins and all.
Neither Spurlock, 33, nor the three doctors who agreed to monitor his health during the experiment were prepared for the degree of ruin it would wreak on his body. Within days, he was vomiting up his burgers and battling with headaches and depression. And his sex drive vanished.
When Spurlock had finished, his liver, overwhelmed by saturated fats, had virtually turned to pate. "The liver test was the most shocking thing," said Dr Daryl Isaacs, who joined the team to watch over him. "It became very, very abnormal."
Spurlock put on nearly 12kg over the period and his cholesterol level leapt from a respectable 165 to 230. He told the New York Post: "I got desperately ill. My face was splotchy and I had this huge gut, which I've never had in my life ... It was amazing - and really frightening." And his girlfriend, a vegan chef? "She was completely disgusted by me," he said.
Making the film over several months last year, Spurlock travelled through 20 states, interviewing everyone from fast-food junkies to the US Surgeon General and a lobbyist for the industry. McDonald's, for whom the film can only be a public relations catastrophe, ignored his repeated entreaties for comment.
Spurlock had the idea for the film on Thanksgiving Day 2002, slumped on his mother's couch after eating far too much. He saw a news item about two teenage girls in New York suing McDonald's for making them obese. The company responded by saying their food was nutritious and good for people. Is that so, he wondered? To find out, he committed himself to his 30 days of Big Mac bingeing.
The film does not yet have a distributor and, given the advertising clout of McDonald's, that may prove problematic. But the critics at Sundance seem to have been captivated. Certainly, the film is blessed by good timing. Obesity has in recent months captured headlines as America's new health scourge. The humour of the approach - and Spurlock's own suffering - obviously helps.
At the festival in Park City, Utah, he has had teams handing out "Unhappy Meal" bags on the streets with a few "Fat Fun Facts". For instance, one in four Americans visits a fast-food restaurant every day. And did you know that McDonald's feeds more people around the world every day than the population of Spain? The makers have self-rated the film "F" - for "fat audiences".
McDonald's has finally been forced to comment. "Consumers can achieve balance in their daily dining decisions by choosing from our array of quality offerings and range of portion sizes to meet their taste and nutrition goals," it said in a statement last week.
Spurlock claims that the goal was not to attack McDonald's as such. Among the issues he highlights is the willingness of schools to feed students nothing but burgers and pizza. "If there's one thing we could accomplish with the film, it is that we make people think about what they put in their mouth," he said. "So the next time you do go into a fast-food restaurant and they say, 'Would you like to upsize that?' you think about it and say, 'Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll stick with the medium this time.'"
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|From: Galirayo||7/27/2005 11:11:18 PM|
|[MCD] McDonalds Corp ... BLOG !!!! |
Someone please tell upper Management that the .. Wonderful New Design of their Cups ... which include the .. Infamous Arches at the Very Bottom of the Cup ...
DON'T FIT WELL IN THE AUTOMOTIVE CUP HOLDERS ANY MORE !!!!!!
NOW THAT IS THINKING IN ONLY ADVERTISING MODE ...
WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO ... IF YOU ASK ME.
DOLLARS WELL SPENT !!!
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|From: Sam Citron||4/19/2006 1:40:01 PM|
|Salads or No, Cheap Burgers Revive McDonald's [NYT]|
By MELANIE WARNER
On a recent afternoon at McDonald's in Union Square in Manhattan, Chris Rivera and Shamell Jackson reviewed the menu, which includes a variety of healthy options, including salad and fruit. Then they each ordered the usual: two McChicken sandwiches from the Dollar Menu, fries and a McFlurry shake.
The two 15-year-olds, like many of their classmates at the nearby Washington Irving High School, go to McDonald's often. And it is customers like Mr. Jackson and Ms. Rivera, consistently ordering the cheaper and more fattening items on the menu, who have fueled a remarkable resurgence at McDonald's.
"When I was younger, my mom never used to let me come here," said Mr. Jackson, standing in a register line 15 deep and filled with teenagers. "She thought it was nasty. But I've got my own money now."
The enormous success of the Dollar Menu, where all items cost $1, has helped stimulate 36 consecutive months of sales growth at stores open at least a year. In three years, revenue has increased by 33 percent and its shares have rocketed 170 percent, a remarkable turnaround for a company that only four years ago seemed to be going nowhere.
McDonald's has attracted considerable attention in the last few years for introducing to its menu healthy food items like salads and fruit. Yet its turnaround has come not from greater sales of healthy foods but from selling more fast-food basics, like double cheeseburgers and fried chicken sandwiches, from the Dollar Menu.
While that may have helped many low-income customers save money, there could be a heavy health cost. McDonald's has marketed the Dollar Menu to teenagers, young adults and minorities who are already plagued with an especially high incidence of obesity and related health problems like diabetes.
Many nutritionists say fast food is one of the worst things in the American diet, because of its calories, trans fats, lack of fiber and added sugars and processed carbohydrates. "If you're looking at the Dollar Menu in terms of how much food you get it really appears as a good bargain," said Connie Schneider, a nutrition adviser for Fresno County in California. "But if you're looking at it as how many nutrients are you getting for a dollar, it's the least economical."
McDonald's says it seeks to provide options for its customers, at both low and higher prices. "We're proud of the choices we offer customers," said Bill Lamar, chief marketing officer for McDonald's United States business. "You can come in and order Apple Dippers, salads with low-fat dressing, yogurt, or you can order an Egg McMuffin, which is a very nutritious sandwich. People can make the decisions about how to eat for themselves."
True, McDonald's has persuaded millions of mostly female customers to buy its healthier, higher-priced salads. "We are improving our relevance with products like salads, which cast a favorable glow over our brand and the rest of our menu," boasted McDonald's chief financial officer, Matthew Paul, in a conference call with analysts in July 2004.
In 2005, salad sales totaled 173 million units, about even with salad sales in 2004. Per month, however, sales have slipped from 14.7 million salads in 2003 to 9.6 million in 2006.
And every day, McDonald's moves a lot more double cheeseburgers than either salads or the new Premium Chicken Sandwich — most versions of the sandwich have more calories and more sodium than a double cheeseburger. Richard Adams, a former McDonald's executive who now works as a consultant for franchisees, says the average store sells roughly 50 salads a day and 50 to 60 Premium Chicken Sandwiches, compared with 300 to 400 double cheeseburgers from the Dollar Menu.
Reacting to the success of McDonald's Dollar Menu, Wendy's and Burger King both started promoting their versions of low-priced deals. Wendy's, which in 1989 was the first burger chain to experiment with menu items for $1, lowered prices on its Super Value Menu to 99 cents in January. And in February, Burger King started offering its own version of a dollar menu, including the Whopper Jr. and cheeseburgers.
The Dollar Menu became a permanent part of McDonald's menu in the United States in late 2002. It offers items like a double cheeseburger, the fried McChicken sandwich, French fries, a hot fudge sundae, pies, a side salad, a yogurt parfait and a 16-ounce soda.
Since McDonald's started advertising the Dollar Menu nationally, the double cheeseburger has become the chain's most ordered item. Even priced at $1, double cheeseburgers bring in more revenue than salads or the chicken sandwiches, which cost $3.19 to $4.29.
McDonald's executives say the Dollar Menu has driven enormous additional traffic into the stores, primarily young men and women aged 18 to 24. "The Dollar Menu appeals to lower-income, ethnic consumers," said Steve Levigne, vice president for United States business research at McDonald's. "It's people who don't always have $6 in their pocket."
Just three and a half years ago, McDonald's was struggling mightily. Its stock had tumbled 56 percent in 10 months and the company had reported its first quarterly loss. Sales at existing stores in the United States, by far McDonald's biggest market, were not growing and in many instances were declining.
Stung by obesity lawsuits and criticism from books like "Fast Food Nation," the company's brand seemed passé and the high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium cuisine appeared poised for a long decline.
But that did not happen. Today, McDonald's business, both in the United States and globally, is growing; the chain gets some one million more American visitors a day than it did just a year ago.
Other factors have contributed to this turnaround, which has been surprisingly speedy for such a large company. McDonald's has been opening fewer stores and sprucing up restaurants and improving service. The chain has placed a greater emphasis on breakfast and introduced a successful global marketing campaign with the "I'm Lovin' It" tagline. But McDonald's says one of the most important factors in its newfound success has been its low-priced staples.
Dollar Menu ads aimed at young blacks and Hispanics often focus on how much hearty food can be bought for just $1, a message many young consumers are eager to hear.
"The problem here is that you're dealing with a segment where you have these huge obesity issues and you're making eating Big Macs and double cheeseburgers look like it's fun and exciting," said Jerome Williams, a professor of advertising at the University of Texas, Austin, and one author of an Institute of Medicine report last year on the marketing of junk food to children and teenagers.
David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children's Hospital in Boston, calls marketing fast food to blacks and Hispanics a "recipe for disaster."
"Fast-food consumption has been shown to increase calorie intake, promote weight gain and elevate risk for diabetes," Dr. Ludwig said. "Because African Americans and Hispanics are inherently at higher risk for obesity and diabetes, fast food will only fuel the problem."
According to an analysis of government data published this month in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 45 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 36.8 percent of Mexican-Americans aged 20 and over are obese, as opposed to 30.6 percent of non-Hispanic white adults.
Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely to suffer from obesity-related diseases. Blacks are 1.8 times as likely to have Type 2 diabetes than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Mexican-Americans, the largest Hispanic subgroup, are 1.7 times as likely. And 42.9 percent of blacks have cardiovascular disease, while 33.3 percent of whites do, according to the American Heart Association.
Obesity and related diseases also carry a high financial cost. Problems created by obesity increase the nation's health care costs by $93 billion a year, mostly from Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, according to a 2003 study done by RTI International in North Carolina.
McDonald's agrees that Hispanics and blacks are core customers. The company gets 17 to 18 percent of its sales from each group. In the overall United States population, blacks represent 12 percent and Hispanics 14 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
Mr. Lamar, McDonald's marketing executive, points out that the company has worked with Dr. Rovenia Brock, a popular African-American fitness guru, to promote physical activity. Mr. Lamar also says the company market its salads to black women, who have the highest rates of obesity of any segment of the population.
Last May, the company ran a commercial featuring four African-American women talking about the McDonald's fruit and walnut salad and getting their "fruit buzz." The ad ran on BET, the Black Family Network and "Girlfriends" on UPN.
But Professor Williams at the University of Texas says the majority of McDonald's ads aimed at blacks feature Quarter Pounders With Cheese, Big Macs and French fries. McDonald's says that it advertises all its products equally across all markets and that over the last three years the most advertised menu items were Premium Chicken Sandwiches, McGriddles breakfast sandwiches and premium salads.
Marketing experts say McDonald's, which has long been proud of its inclusive advertising, is among the most shrewd when it comes to reaching blacks and Hispanics. The company's ads aimed at black consumers tend to be stylish and use hip contemporary language and music.
"Look who's trying to add some flavor to her life," says a young black man wearing an earring, silver chain and baseball hat that match his sweatsuit as he eyes a black woman dressed in a business suit ordering a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. The ad, which ran on BET, the TV One cable network and "The Bernie Mac Show" on Fox, was created by Burrell Communications, the Chicago-based agency that does most of McDonald's advertising for black consumers.
Rick Mariquen, director of Hispanic consumer marketing at McDonald's, says ads aimed at Hispanics in both Spanish and English often feature groups of friends or families gathering at McDonald's. "They come to the stores in large groups, often families, and see the experience as a social one," said Mr. Mariquen, whose parents are from Guatemala.
In the last four years, McDonald's has increased its advertising spending on Spanish-language television by 60 percent, to $57.4 million a year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
But to people like Ms. Schneider, the nutrition adviser in Fresno County, all those ads only make her job more challenging. Through a federally funded program run with the University of California, Davis, she offers free nutrition education classes in heavily Latino communities. Many of the classes, she says, are attended by people who are overweight with a host of health problems.
Ms. Schneider says she does not think it is realistic to instruct people to stop going to fast-food restaurants. But she says the program encourages students to go less frequently or make different menu choices.
"Restaurant advertising looks very fun and social," Ms. Schneider said. "But fast-food ads don't show you what happens when you're in your 40's and your cholesterol's high and your heart has to work really hard to pump."
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|From: TimF||1/30/2007 8:59:58 PM|
|How bad is McDonald's?|
Not as bad as some people say:
A Swedish researcher put 18 volunteers on the same diet that filmmaker Morgan Spurlock went on while filming "Super Size Me."
While one volunteer gained 15 percent body weight after following the high-choleric diet for a month, several others experienced only minimal weight gain. [He] was thus forced to conclude that "some people are just more susceptible to obesity than others."
Also: The 12 men and six women were banned from exercising.
While all gained weight, none reported mood swings or liver damage like Spurlock did in the movie.
Comments from Wired
Monday, 29 January 2007 - 1:06 PM
Are you suggesting that Morgan Spurlock is a "researcher"? I agree that many assumptions must be tested (ulcers and h. pylori comes immediately to mind), even in the face of mountains of conventional wisdom otherwise.
But Spurlock is no "researcher". While he had doctors monitoring him during his 30-day McDonald's diet, a sample size of one does not constitute research. He's an attention-seeking filmmaker who had a good idea for a movie which would capture the public's interest.
Doing research aimed at testing conventional wisdom is a good thing. Hyping pseudo-science (or premilinary and incomplete results) as definitive proof of a hypothesis is a very bad thing and undermines public confidence in science and the scientific process.
Monday, 29 January 2007 - 1:52 PM
My first thought after watching "Super Size Me" was, you know I haven't had a Big Mac in a while, need to run out and get one.
Second thought, Spurlock was a complete moron, with an agenda. Gee go from my normal diet A combined with regular exercise and an active lifestyle to totally different diet B cutting out all exercise and activity. You think there might be a change?
Plus I would really love to meet someone who truly only eats at MacDonald's breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Comments from Marginal Revolution
I railed against this film and what it supposedly proved when I had to watch it in a nutrition course. For one thing, any drastic change in diet--even when someone goes strict vegetarian--will result in physical changes that may make one feel dizzy, upset, etc.
Secondly, no one lives on MacDonalds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day. You eat just apples all day for a month and see how you feel, and how traumatized your system is by the onslaught.
Posted by: susan at Jan 30, 2007 8:13:41 AM
It seems like McD's get the short end of the stick here; I want to see how much weight you put on eating at the local Chinese joint 3 meals a day and not exercising (or even better, at the French Laundry or some 3 Michelin star restaurant in Burgundy!). I'd bet the results would be even more drastic!
Posted by: cure at Jan 30, 2007 9:10:17 AM
It's also important to note that he ate over 5,000 calories a day. His maintanence level was likely between 2,000 and 3,000 (and without exercise I seriously doubt it
was 3,000). A recipe for nutritional disaster for most people.
Posted by: MDM at Jan 30, 2007 9:21:43 AM
Did anybody see the much less-hyped film made by a woman who ate all
meals at McD's for a month, but she kept to between 2K and 3K calories
per day, and she exercised? I don't remember the name of it, but she
didn't gain any weight and didn't have any adverse health effects. She
had her share of Big Macs and fries, but also ordered salads and the like.
Posted by: Mike at Jan 30, 2007 9:36:37 AM
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