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03/11/02 . By Andrew Johnson . Independent on Sunday . UK
France and US in battle of Big Mac
The American and European arms of the burger giant McDonald's are involved in a row after an admission in a French magazine advert that children should eat in their restaurants only once a week.
McDonald's France placed a full-page advertorial in the magazine Femme Actuelle headlined "McDonald's - is it causing obesity in children?" in response to figures showing child obesity in the country had doubled to 16 per cent in 10 years.
Two independent nutritionists tackled the question. One, Agnes Mignonac, wrote that as long as the child took regular exercise, ate healthily and wasn't overweight, a once-a-week treat was harmless. For overweight children, she advised a hamburger rather than deep-fried Chicken McNuggets.
But the campaign has provoked a furious response from the corporation's American HQ in Chicago, which issued a statement saying: "This is the opinion of one consultant. We strongly disagree. The vast majority of nutrition professionals say McDonald's food can be and is part of a healthy diet based on the sound nutrition principles of balance, variety and moderation."
It added that Happy Meals are "considered an `excellent' or `good' source of more than nine nutrients by the FDA [the Food and Drug Administration, the US regulator]."
A spokeswoman for McDonald's in Britain said: "No one food should be
regarded as healthy or unhealthy. It's common sense that physical
and balance are important, so it's not possible to recommend a specific
number of visits. Parents should take into account the child's overall diet,
lifestyle and level of activity."