The Fast Food Lawsuits

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In 2002, parents of two obese teenaged girls filed a lawsuit against the McDonald’s Corporation alleging the company’s negligent, yet effective, marketing of fatty foods toward the American youth led to her unhealthy weight and lifestyle. The complaint also noted that McDonald’s failed to properly disclose the ingredients and nutritional information of their products. Similarly, in 2003, a male in California filed a lawsuit against Nabisco for their use of trans fats ingredients in their snack products, primarily the popular—and delicious—Oreo cookies; he argued that the company knew trans fats cause tremendous and undesirable weight gain leading to an unhealthy American populace. While both cases failed to fully navigate their way to trial, they placed a spotlight on the issue of the evolving nutritional patterns in the United States and the subsequent consequences on general health. Health officials have placed particular attention on the eating habits of children and adolescents in particular. They have taken special note that children’s daily diet during the last twenty years has remarkably shifted to an unhealthy dominance of high calorie and high fat. Complemented by alarming decreases in physical activity, the nutritional habits of today’s youth reflect a clear and present danger towards the future social, economic, and physical health of Americans.   A healthy diet helps ensure the proper physical and cognitive development of young children.  In a Tufts University study entitled, “The Link Between Nutrition and Cognitive Development in Children,” children who consume foods with the desirable number of nutrients, especially during critical developmental stages, will likely increase their potential—physically and socially (Tufts, 1994). Under- and poor nutrition tends to harm children, even if the detrimental effects aren’t immediately visible or noticeable. The Tufts study argues that the consequences of poor nutrition take their effect many times “in silence,” especially since scarce energy gained from whatever limited food portions the child consumes is used first for maintenance of essential body organs, and lastly for physical and cognitive development (Tufts, 1994).  The Center for Disease Control publishes that eating well is vital to the overall physical development of the child; poor nutrition has been linked to stunted growth, iron deficiency, and arteriosclerosis—a chief cause of the early onset of childhood heart disease and high blood cholesterol levels (CDC, 2007).  The government agency notes that with such rapid growth in childhood, those children who do not intake required amounts of vital minerals and vitamins risk not only stunting their growth, but acquiring osteoporosis where the bones cane become quite fragile and break quite easily (CDC, 2007). Children normally love to engage in sports activities, both at school and at home, and these activities are sometimes rough—whether it’s tag, football, or street hockey. Playing children who consume low portions of important minerals, such as calcium and Vitamin D, can risk their physical development, as their bones are frail (Tufts, 1994).  In addition, consequences of poor nutrition on the child’s growing body include reduced ability for the immune system to fight off some infections and cold viruses, which can result in missed days of school (Tufts, 2006). A child’s cognitive development is also terribly compromised because of poor nutrition. Many children who suffer from malnourishment can demonstrate some behaviors that may not be easily found in children who receive proper nutrition.  In a report entitled, “Children’s Nutrition,” published by the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, behaviors such as aggressiveness, passiveness, and irritability can be common among a populace of children who have been denied a steady, nutritious diet (SCAA, 2006).  Furthermore, the report revealed that children who are malnourished may feel withdrawn,...
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