- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

NEW YORK, Jan. 22 (UPI) — A New York federal judge Wednesday dismissed a suit alleging that consumption of McDonald's hamburgers was to blame for obesity among children.

The suit alleged that McDonald's deceived consumers about their products and caused them to injure their health by eating Big Macs and the company's other fast foods.

However, District Judge Robert W. Sweet, for the Southern District of New York, said the plaintiffs failed to spell out their grounds for the suit and so he dismissed it. But he said the plaintiffs could replead all claims except for those falling under New York City's administrative code.

The suit was filed in New York state courts in August 2002 and moved to federal court in September. It was filed by the parent/guardians of two children, Ashley Pelman and Jazlyn Bradley, who frequented McDonald's outlets in the Bronx.

The parents alleged that by regularly consuming McDonald's products, their children became obese, developed diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

In five counts, they alleged that McDonald's was deceptive about the health effects of some of their products which contained high levels of cholesterol, fat, salt and sugar, did not disclose their ingredients, deceptively described the food as nutritious, and marketed it in such a way as to attract youth. They claimed the company was negligent in selling unhealthy products and failed to warn consumers of the dangers of eating such products and also was negligent for "marketing food products that were physically and psychologically addictive."

Sweet said the American consumer spends $110 billion on fast food each year.

"If consumers know (or reasonably should know) the potential ill health effects of eating at McDonald's, they cannot blame McDonald's if they, nonetheless, choose to satiate their appetite with a surfeit of supesized McDonald's products," he said.

McDonald's, of Oak Brook, Ill., said it was pleased by the dismissal.

"Common sense has prevailed," Walter Riker, company spokesman, said in a statement.

"We said from the beginning that this was a frivolous lawsuit. Today's ruling confirms that fact.

"McDonald's will continue to offer a menu of quality and variety that gives customers a wide range of choices. McDonald's has been providing nutrition information about our food for the past 30 years so that customers can make informed choices about what they decide to eat."

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