updated 5/14/2004 12:33:33 PM ET 2004-05-14T16:33:33

Guests: Morgan Spurlock, Cathy Kapica, Michael Jacobson, Howard Shapiro



DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST:  A film of epic portions.  Imagine eating nothing but fast food for an entire month. 

MORGAN SPURLOCK, DIRECTOR, “SUPER SIZE ME”:  I think I‘m going to have to go super size. 

NORVILLE:  Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock took a journey to the dark side of super size.  When you see what happened to him you might think twice about your fast food habits. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You gained eventually about five percent of your body weight. 

NORVILLE:  Tonight, we weigh all the facts and myths behind Morgan Spurlock‘s Mac attacks. 

SPURLOCK:  I‘ve been a little bit crazy.

NORVILLE:  And in a prime time exclusive McDonald‘s responds to “Super Size Me.” 

Plus, America at large.  Whether it‘s pizza, burgers, tacos or fried chicken you crave, the fast food business is there to serve.  So why, in a culture obsessed with beauty and health, do Americans spend so much time at the drive-through?  And can fast food be part of a healthy diet?

ANNOUNCER:  From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.


NORVILLE:  And good evening, everybody.

Who doesn‘t love a juicy hamburger every now and then?  How about a little more often than now and then?  How about fast food for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner every single day for a month?

Well, the producer, director and star of a new documentary did just that.  Morgan Spurlock, who won the best director award at this year‘s Sundance Film Festival, ate nothing but McDonald‘s for 30 straight days, and the effect on his body and his health are startling. 

In just a moment, we‘re going to meet him and find out what on earth he was thinking to even do this. 

But first, we‘ll also be getting a prime time interview, the first response ever from McDonald‘s on this subject during prime time television.  They provided their nutritionist to come on the show and talk about this. 

But first let‘s get to know Morgan Spurlock.  Here is a clip from “super Size Me,” his movie.


SPURLOCK:  There are rules to what‘s going on here in this whole process.  I will only super size it if they ask me.  I can only eat things that are for sale over the counter at McDonald‘s, water included.  If McDonald‘s doesn‘t sell it, I can‘t eat it.  I have to have everything on the menu at least once over the next 30 days, and I have to have three squares a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. 


SPURLOCK:  Yes.  Could I get the double quarter pounder with cheese meal?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you want super size?

SPURLOCK:  I think I‘m going to have to go super size. 

Look at that.  Look at that Coke.  It barely fits in there.  Look at that.  Look at how big that thing is.  Look how big that French fry is.  That thing is like four feet tall. 

Double quarter pounder with cheese.  More calories than anything. 

There it is, a little bit of heaven. 


NORVILLE:  And joining me now is Morgan Spurlock, the director, producer and self-proclaimed guinea pig of “Super Size Me.” 

Nice to meet you.

SPURLOCK:  Thanks for having me.

NORVILLE:  You look like a kid at Christmas opening presents as you dove into that sack and whipped out that hamburger. 

SPURLOCK:  Well, come on.  It was the thing that we all love.  You know, we love the burgers, the fries, the shakes, the Cokes.  I mean, it was great, you know.  The first few days were fantastic. 

NORVILLE:  And you got to eat total junk food, total fast food without the guilt. 

SPURLOCK:  Without the guilt.  Yes, I had no guilt over the course of the whole thing.  It‘s true.

NORVILLE:  I can‘t quite figure this out.  Why do this?  Why a steady diet, three squares a day, of McDonald‘s?  You knew...


NORVILLE:  ... that this wasn‘t the best food you could be putting in on a consistent, constant basis. 

SPURLOCK:  And for me, we always hear—you always hear how bad fast food is, and I have friends who eat fast food on a regular basis, who are eating it every day. 

You may not be going to the same place every day, but you‘re going to a Taco Bell one day or a Burger King the next or McDonald‘s the next. 

And so we always hear how bad it is.  So I wanted to see, well, for people who eat a steady stream of really bad food, because in America we have really bad habits.  We overeat and we under exercise, so what would happen if I really subjected myself to 30 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner of nothing but McDonald‘s? 

NORVILLE:  What inspired you?

SPURLOCK:  The film was inspired for me by the two girls who kind of filed lawsuits against McDonald‘s, because when I first heard I thought this, I thought it was completely ludicrous. 

I said, “Wow, that‘s where we live now.  We live in such a litigious society now that we‘re going to buy feed from somebody, you know, eat it and then blame them for what happens to us.” 

But the more I started to hear about the suits, the more I started to hear about the, you know, the marketing practices, how they target kids from such a young age, the manufacturing, the amount of ingredients that go into making very simple food items.  You know, the nutritional aspects of the food, or lack thereof. 

I said, you know what?  There‘s definitely an argument here.  Whether or not I support it, because I‘m not a very litigious person.  You know, I said there‘s definitely a basis for an argument.  And so I said, let‘s explore the epidemic then.  Let‘s look at this and see. 

NORVILLE:  You were inspired by these two chubby girls who contended that they had become chubby because the food at McDonald‘s made them fat? 

SPURLOCK:  Because for me there is a line here that is drawn.  Where do you draw the line between corporate and personal responsibility?  Because I do believe there is a two-way street here.  You know, we need to take responsibility for how we eat, but at the same time, especially for a company like a McDonald‘s who I use as the prime example in the film...

NORVILLE:  But why pick on McDonald‘s? 

SPURLOCK:  Because they‘re the biggest.

NORVILLE:  There are 300,000 fast food joints. 

SPURLOCK:  There are.  There are so many.  But McDonald‘s is by far the leader, you know?  And so I wanted to pick the company that was the leader.  They feed more than 46 million people every single day.  They have over 30,000 restaurants in over 100 countries on six continents. 

So I wanted to pick the company that, in my mind, emulated all of them.  That basically here is the company that everybody aspires to be.  And they follow their business practices.  So I wanted to pick the company that, in my mind, can most easily institute change if they wanted to and everybody would follow. 

NORVILLE:  Well, we‘re going to be talking later in the program with a representative of McDonald‘s and talk about the changes that are going on and their reaction to the movie. 

But when you look at McDonald‘s, you say it‘s—it‘s the leader. 

It‘s the beacon for all of them. 


NORVILLE:  You could have done the same thing by going to Wendy‘s or Burger King. 

SPURLOCK:  It could have happened anywhere.  It could have happened anywhere. 

NORVILLE:  And you think the result would have been the same?

SPURLOCK:  I think the result would have been the same anywhere.  Yes. 

Because if you—if you eat a very high fat, high sugar, you know, low exercise type of diet, you‘re going to have health problems.

And the film really focuses around choice.  You know, we make poor choices every day in America.  We make poor eating choices.  But at the same point, I think a corporation, especially one that feeds as many people as a McDonald‘s does, has to help educate their consumers to let them know how they should be making proper choices. 

NORVILLE:  I want to roll the clip, because you went into this thing with vim and vigor.

SPURLOCK:  Come on.  It was a McDonald‘s.  We all love it, right? 

NORVILLE:  And ready to go for it.  Let‘s look at you earlier on in the process as Morgan Spurlock goes through the adventure of super sizing. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  192, 193, 194. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have to stop everything. 

SPURLOCK:  I don‘t believe it; 195 pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It can‘t be.  We have to redo this. 

That‘s zero.  Second try.  88, 92, 94. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You gained actually about five percent of your body weight.  Losing weight that fast and gaining it that fast is not healthy. 


NORVILLE:  In how short a period of time did that happen?

SPURLOCK:  That was in about five days. 

NORVILLE:  In five days, you gained five percent of your body weight?

SPURLOCK:  I gained nine pounds in five days. 

NORVILLE:  Because the problem is, not only were you eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at McDonald‘s...


NORVILLE:  ... you were a glutton and a sloth.  You didn‘t do anything. 

SPURLOCK:  Yes.  The average American walks about a mile and a half a day.  You know, 60 percent of Americans get no form of exercise whatsoever.  So I wanted to live the typical American lifestyle of overeating and under exercising, and so what I did is I went from—you know, I ride my bike from the city, so I stopped riding my bike...

NORVILLE:  It‘s actually a third of adults.  I want to get the figures right.  It‘s a third of adults who get absolutely zero exercise. 

SPURLOK:  Those are the ones who are, like, completely on their couch. 

NORVILLE:  Like you.  Like you.

SPURLOCK:  The rest walk a mile and a half a day, two miles.  You know, what kind of exercise are they getting?

NORVILLE:  It‘s something. 

SPURLOCK:  Well, that‘s the thing.  So I was still walking more than them.  I was walking 2 ½ to three miles a day.  So I was still exercising more than most Americans do, just by walking three miles a day. 

NORVILLE:  But you were also consuming an extraordinary number of calories. 

SPURLOCK:  Around anywhere between 4,500 to 5,000 calories a day. 

NORVILLE:  And normally you don‘t eat probably half that much. 

SPURLOCK:  I eat usually anywhere between 2,500 to 3,000 calories a day.  That‘s what I would average. 

NORVILLE:  And how did it start impacting you?  Obviously, you gained a ton of weight in a frighteningly short period of time.


NORVILLE:  But what did the lack of exercise do to the mental health?

SPURLOCK:  Well, there was the weight gain—The weight gain was not even the bigger—the scariest part of the whole issue for me. 

I mean, what really started happening internally from my cholesterol jumping up, the depression set in.  Which the depression I think was partnered with not exercising, because I do get a lot out of exercising. 

But for me, the impact that it had on my liver, where there was so much fat it started to get deposited in my liver that the doctors are comparing it to cirrhosis.  I was in route to giving myself what was called non-alcoholic‘s hepatitis, which will lead to hardening of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver.  Just like an alcoholic would get, and this was being caused by a high fat diet. 

NORVILLE:  And you were still more than a week away from your goal of lasting 30 days. 

SPURLOCK:  Oh, no.  I made it all the way through. 

NORVILLE:  At that point.

SPURLOCK:  By that point all the doctors said you need to stop. 

NORVILLE:  So why didn‘t you?

SPURLOCK:  Because I really wanted to make it through.  I wanted to go through to the very end of the project. 

NORVILLE:  And what‘s the point?  Now that you‘ve gone that you the 30 days, you gained all the weight, what was the point?

SPURLOCK:  I think the point is, is to show people that we need to make better choices for ourselves.  You know, I want people to come out of this movie saying, “You know what?  I need to accept some responsibility for the choices I make.  I need to make smarter health choices for me.  I need to be a better role model for my kids.”

Because parents need to realize that if you eat out three or four or five days a week and don‘t exercise, you‘re going to raise kids that eat out three or four or five days a week and don‘t exercise. 

You know, for me one of the scariest things that happens in the film is when we go down and we examine the school lunch programs.  School lunches in America are terrible.

And what I want parents to also come out of this and say, “You know what?  I don‘t have any idea what my kids are eating.  I want to go down and see.”  Because a lot of these school lunch programs is like eating lunch in the middle of a 7-11.  You know, they‘ve got Ho-ho‘s and Ring-dings and, you know, pizza and ice cream and junk.  Yes.

NORVILLE:  We‘re going to take a break right now.  When we come back I want to talk about it‘s not just the fast food restaurants but also talk about why you targeted McDonald‘s in specific and more on that.


NORVILLE:  We‘re going to be back more with Morgan Spurlock.  The movie‘s called “Super Size Me,” when we come back.


ANNOUNCER:  Coming up, this tongue and cheek look at the fast food business might spoil your appetite. 

SPURLOCK:  You get the McBrick and you get the McStomach Ache. 

ANNOUNCER:  But now, the golden arches are fighting back.  What is it about Morgan Spurlock‘s film that some people are finding hard to swallow?  The flip side of the burger biz when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.  And McDonald‘s, McDonald‘s.  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.  I like those.  I like those.  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.  And McDonald‘s, McDonald‘s.  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.  I like those.  I like those.  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.  And McDonald‘s, McDonald‘s.  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut.  I like those.  I like those.  Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut...


NORVILLE:  Some kids singing the praises of fast food from the new movie called “Super Size Me.”  I‘m back with the producer, director and star of the film, Morgan Spurlock.

Did those kids make up that song themselves, or did you teach them?

SPURLOCK:  That song is a song that kids actually sing at summer camps nationwide, which is completely frightening. 

NORVILLE:  And also interesting in your movie, you did what they do on television.  They take TV personalities‘ faces.  They put them in front of strangers and say, “Do you know them?  Do you like them?”


NORVILLE:  “Who is this person?”


NORVILLE:  You took Ronald McDonald, Jesus Christ and George W. Bush.

SPURLOCK:  No, it was actually—no, it was George Washington.

NORVILLE:  George Washington.  Sorry.

SPURLOCK:  George Washington, Jesus, Wendy and Ronald McDonald.  And a couple knew George Washington, which is great.  They‘re first graders. 

None of them knew Jesus.  One of them knew Wendy, and all of them knew Ronald McDonald. 

NORVILLE:  So what does that tell you?

SPURLOCK:  That just, you know, we‘re—Ronald has better marketing than Jesus.  You know, it‘s the passion of the Ronald.  You think it would be the other way around, but it‘s just the kids are so heavily inundated from such a young age. 

You know, we condition the kids from the cradle, you know, to the power of the Ronald.  He takes them into stores.  It‘s a fun, happy place.  You never see Ronald eat the food, you know, but he takes the kids in and gives it to them. 

NORVILLE:  You criticize McDonald‘s, and you say that the other fast food restaurants are equally culpable, as far as you‘re concerned. 


NORVILLE:  But shouldn‘t your ire be directed the parents...

SPURLOCK:  I agree.

NORVILLE:  ... who are not teaching their kids, “Sweetheart, have an apple.  Honey, let‘s have some water instead of this heavy, sugary soda”?

SPURLOCK:  Absolutely.  I mean, I think parents, you know, are a huge part of this as well as our schools.  As I said, the school lunch program is a huge focus of the film for us.

And parents play a huge part.  Like I said, if you‘re a parent who eats out all the time—and I grew up in a house where we ate dinner together every day, period.  My mom worked all day.  She did the run around the kid thing in the evening.  But then she cooked dinner for us.  It was important to her.  And that relationship with our food and that type of food education that happens at a dinner table is disappearing from our country. 

NORVILLE:  What has also disappeared from our country since you were a kid growing up and kids today is many parents are working not one but two jobs.  Time is probably the most precious resource any of them have, and there‘s not enough of it.

SPURLOCK:  But certain...

NORVILLE:  And it‘s easier to go and pick it up out of a sack. 

SPURLOCK:  But just as Surgeon General David Satcher (ph) said when they interviewed him, you know, he was former surgeon, first person to declare obesity a national epidemic.  If you don‘t make time to take care of yourself now, you better make time to be in hospitals later.  And that‘s what‘s happening.

NORVILLE:  And earlier this year, prior to your movie coming out, Tommy Thompson initiated an obesity campaign, pointing out that in 2000, 400,000 people died of obesity related illnesses. 

SPURLOCK:  Second only to smoking. 

NORVILLE:  And smoking was just 435,000. 


NORVILLE:  One point, moderation.  You made a point, every time you went, you sat down, you opened whatever the food was of the day, you ate it all. 

SPURLOCK:  No, I didn‘t eat it all.  That‘s untrue.  It‘s a misnomer. 

I never sat down and finished a meal if I didn‘t feel like finishing it.

The other thing was I had a salad one out of every 10 meals, because here‘s the other thing you‘re going to hear talked about, is how health conscious people are who eat at McDonald‘s when they go out to eat and have food.

You‘re going to hear the number thrown out, well last year McDonald‘s sold 150 million salads.  You know, our people really care about being health conscious and making smart choices...

NORVILLE:  And your point is contrast that to how many burgers they sold?

SPURLOCK:  Contrast that to how many people they feed every day, which is 46 million, almost 17 billion people a year.  So 150 million salads is not even 1 percent. 

NORVILLE:  McDonald‘s can‘t take somebody, hogtie them, drag them in and say, “You‘re eating the salad or you‘re not getting out of here.” 

SPURLOCK:  No.  But what they can do is help educate the consumer.  How many calories are in their food.  You know, it‘s like I shouldn‘t have to hunt down -- 75 percent of the purchases that are made at a fast food restaurant are an impulse buy. 

You know, we don‘t get up in the morning and say, “You know what? 

Tonight I‘m going to go to Burger King.” 

You know, it‘s like no, you‘re walking by.  You‘re like, “Wow, I‘m hungry.”  So you walk in.  You shouldn‘t have to hunt down nutrition information.  Why not have it right on the board, calories?  Ruby Tuesdays is putting it in the menu now. 

NORVILLE:  Which is a legitimate criticism.  In many of the restaurants you did make an effort to try to find the nutritional information. 

SPURLOCK:  One out of four—Yes.  And one out of four of them, of the restaurants in Manhattan had no information whatsoever in the store. 

NORVILLE:  Which means three out of four did have the information. 

SPURLOCK:  Of one kind or another.  Either they had a pamphlet or they had something else.

NORVILLE:  And do you think it should be in a pamphlet or should it be right there?

SPURLOCK:  I think it should be on the board.  Once again, it‘s an impulse buy.  So if it‘s an impulse buy, I should walk in and see it right on the board.  The problem therein lies—you know, if you start to educate the consumer too much, you start to take away from the bottom line. 

Because as you said before, we don‘t go there for the salads.  We go there for the good stuff and you stand to lose money once you start steering people away from the burgers, the shakes, the fries.  So it‘s a hard road to toe.

NORVILLE:  Lest anyone think it‘s just McDonald‘s...

SPURLOCK:  Oh, my gosh.  The Double Gulp.  My favorite.

NORVILLE:  ... we‘ve got the cups.  Let‘s line them up here. 

SPURLOCK:  This is a 20-ounce.

NORVILLE:  This is 7-11, the Big Gulp. 

SPURLOCK:  This is the Big Gulp, the original Big Gulp.  That is 32 ounces.  That‘s a quart.

NORVILLE:  The Super Big Gulp, 44 ounces. 

SPURLOCK:  Forty-four ounces, which is about the same size as most super sizes in stores. 

NORVILLE:  And this is half a gallon of soda. 

SPURLOCK:  The Double Gulp is 64 ounces of soda, 48 teaspoons of sugar in one cup, probably around 600 calories, 600-700 calories in one cup. 

NORVILLE:  This wouldn‘t be that big if somebody weren‘t out there buying it.


NORVILLE:  So how can you criticize 7-11 or Burger King or whoever happens to sell a soda this large from meeting the consumer‘s demands? 

SPURLOCK:  But it‘s the consumer demand versus the advertising for consumer demand.  People buy what you sell them.  You know, the most heavily advertised foods are consumed the most. 

I remember when Big Gulps came out.  These were all over TV.  I remember when super sizing came out.  It was, “Hey, just say super size it.”  How many millions of advertisements did you see?

People buy what you sell them and if you sell—if you sell, you know, unhealthy food they‘re going to buy unhealthy foods.  If you really start promoting really healthy food and really healthy lifestyles people will start to buy into that, as well.  And that‘s what needs to happen. 

NORVILLE:  I want to end this segment by giving our viewers an opportunity to see what 30 days of fast food did to Morgan Spurlock.  There you are.  What attractive little shorts you have on. 

SPURLOCK:  That is for all America, baby. 

NORVILLE:  America appreciates this, I‘m sure.  This is the dinner hour for some of our viewers. 

SPURLOCK:  Not any more.

NORVILLE:  Twenty-four and a half pounds, 18 percent body fat.  It took you a month to gain 25 pounds.  How long did it take you to lose it? 

SPURLOCK:  It took me about 14 months to lose all the weight. 

NORVILLE:  How did you do it?

SPURLOCK:  I really—I pay so much attention to what I eat now.  I read labels like crazy.  My girlfriend who‘s in the film gets very excited.  She says, “Look at you reading the label.” 

So I read the labels, and I went back to exercising.  You know, I really have to pay attention because now I gain weight so easily.  I put on weight even faster than before, since I‘ve gained it now. 

NORVILLE:  But the moral of the Morgan Spurlock story is...

SPURLOCK:  Is we need to make smarter choices.  You need to pay attention to what you eat.  You need to make exercise an active part of your life every chance you can. 

NORVILLE:  All right.  Well, we‘re going to work out during the commercial and everyone‘s going to do 50 sit-ups. 

SPURLOCK:  Fine.  Let‘s do it.  Me and you.

NORVILLE:  Morgan Spurlock, congratulations on the film.  It‘s nice to meet you.

SPURLOCK:  Thank you so much.

NORVILLE:  Thanks for being with us. 

When we come back we‘re going to get the other side of the story.  When it comes to the movie “Super Size Me,” McDonald‘s isn‘t exactly loving it.  But we‘re going to get their side of the story next. 




SPURLOCK:  That‘s a lot of food, man.  Look.  You get all that super size stuff.  Look at that.  I just put—I‘m not even halfway done with those fries. 


NORVILLE:  That was a scene from the new documentary called “Super Size Me,” as one man documents his 30-day diet of nothing but food from McDonald‘s. 

Understandably, McDonald‘s Corporation isn‘t particularly happy about the movie, and they released this statement. 

Quote, “This movie is all about one individual‘s decision to act irresponsibly by consuming more than 5,000 calories a day—twice the recommended level for adult males—and by purposely limiting his physical activity.  That‘s why this movie makes no contribution to the important dialogue taking place today on nutrition and balanced lifestyles.”

Joining me is Cathy Kapica.  She is McDonald‘s global nutritionist and an employee of the McDonald‘s Corporation. 

Thanks for being here.  We‘re glad that McDonald‘s came on to talk about this. 

CATHY KAPICA, MCDONALD‘S GLOBAL NUTRITIONIST:  Thanks, Deborah.  It‘s a  pleasure for me to be here. 

NORVILLE:  Did—Did the movie unnerve folks at McDonald‘s that it was such a one-corporate arrow that was being aimed in your direction?

KAPICA:  Well, actually, the movie really is not about McDonald‘s. 

It‘s about one individual‘s, you know, behavior and it‘s a movie.  Mr.

Spurlock had fun with, you know, with the problem of obesity. 

But when it comes to really looking at, you know, solutions and helping our customers that‘s what McDonald‘s is all about.  Long after the movie has stopped talking about it, McDonald‘s will still be here doing what we‘ve always done, helping our customers. 

NORVILLE:  One of the things that preceded this movie, and I‘m curious about the timing, was McDonald‘s decided to end super size.  How did super size get started in the first place, those gigantic drinks and humongous things of French fries?

KAPICA:  Well, as everything at McDonald‘s is, we listen to our customers, and our customers wanted value.  And many times when you talk about super size, especially with something lake the French fries, is those are shared by a family. 

So that‘s how it started, as a value option.  But over the years our customers were telling us, you know, we‘re no longer interested in it.  And the whole demise of super size was decided long before anyone heard of Mr.  Spurlock.  In fact it was a—sent out to the system to be able to eliminate it by the end of 2004, in December of 2003. 

NORVILLE:  It must cost money, though, to retool.  I mean, you have to get rid of the different size French fry containers and scale back on the cups.  And you‘re probably going to have leftovers. 

What‘s it going to cost McDonald‘s just to eliminate super sizing?

KAPICA:  I have no idea in terms of cost, but because it‘s a customer driven company we do things that our customers want. 

The most important fact of all that is it takes time to be able to do that, and that‘s why it takes over a year to be able to phase in that so our customers get the great service that they want without having any—without having the new sizes that are available. 

NORVILLE:  One of the complaints that Mr. Spurlock made was that in one out of four restaurants when he would go looking for the nutritional information, he couldn‘t find it.  His argument being an informed consumer can make better decisions.  And he couldn‘t find the information that he would have needed, he says, in order to choose the less caloric, the less fatty item. 

What‘s McDonald‘s doing to address that?

KAPICA:  Actually, in three out of four restaurants, the information is available.  But—and McDonald‘s has been providing nutrition information to customers for over 30 years.

And right now, we have it in a variety of ways.  It‘s available on the web site.  We have it in brochures in the restaurant as well as now it‘s on the back of the tray liners.  And what we continue to do is look for ways to get this information to our customers, not just simply the numbers but things that are actionable and simple tips.

Like, you know, there‘s information on how to cut calories.  If you just leave the mayonnaise off the sandwich, that cuts 100 calories and 11 grams of fat.  That‘s the kind of information that we get to our customers. 

NORVILLE:  But I‘ve never heard that at a McDonald‘s.  I have to be honest.  I don‘t go there that often, so it may be right there in front and I wouldn‘t see it.  But it‘s not the sort of thing that one typically expects any fast food restaurant to be saying, “Leave off the mayo, save this many calories.”

Is that—is that an objective, that collectively all fast food restaurants will now be taking, give that there is this new consumer push, led by Tommy Thompson among others, to pay attention to what we‘re putting in our mouths?

KAPICA:  Well, that‘s an aspect that McDonald‘s is committed to doing.  And McDonald‘s is committed to helping find solutions for our customers to achieve a balanced lifestyle.  And our goal is to do this through three ways, by providing more menu choices and options.  And that includes a variety of sizes, as well as a variety of actual food, as well as opportunities for physical activity and education. 

NORVILLE:  In the McDonald‘s?  You mean like go play in the playland? 

KAPICA:  Well, no.


NORVILLE:  I‘m a 41-year-old woman.  You don‘t want to see me doing hopping on the Hamburglar‘s head or whatever. 

KAPICA:  Yes, but your kids do.  And I know.  I‘m from Chicago.  And, in the wintertime, the only place I could take my kids was the play place at the McDonald‘s. 

NORVILLE:  Well, one of the things McDonald‘s is doing and it is rolling out right now—we were able to get this one here in New York.

This is your new—I call it the Happy Meal for grownups.  It is called the Go Active Meal.  And what it has got in there is a salad.  Let‘s put our price tag on there.  Regular tossed salad with taco chips, it looks like. 

KAPICA:  That‘s the new Fiesta salad. 


NORVILLE:  Sour cream. 

KAPICA:  With the dressing as a side.

NORVILLE:  And this is Newman‘s Own salsa.  I guess that is for that -

·         you could go either way, right?

KAPICA:  Right.  Yes, right.

So what the Go Active Happy Meal is, it is the adult version of the Happy Meal.  This year is the 25th anniversary of Happy Meals, so it is about team we decided that kids shouldn‘t have all the fun.  Adults need to have fun, too.

NORVILLE:  The difference is the prize which the kids gets for the grownups is a pedometer.  You want to show how it works, because I have no idea?

KAPICA:  Oh, sure.  You clip this on to the belt of your pants or your skirt.  And as you work, move throughout the day, it counts the number of steps that you did.  And the goal is to increase the number of steps that you get. 

Also in here you will notice there‘s a book written by Bob Greene, who is Oprah Winfrey‘s personal trainer. 


KAPICA:  Right. 

And it gives you tips on how to increase physical activity.  Oh, you‘re cheating?

NORVILLE:  No, I just went five steps.

KAPICA:  That‘s your cheating.  But it has a diary in there.


NORVILLE:  Oh, you know how a diet works.

KAPICA:  So you can actually keep track of how many steps you are taking.  The goal is to get 10,000 steps a day, simple, easy things people can do to be more active.

NORVILLE:  This is great.  This is admirable.

I would like to tell you that most people would go and order this.  But a double Mac is so much tastier.  How do you change consumers‘ habits and should the company be worried about doing that? 

KAPICA:  Well, first of all, all the food at McDonald‘s can be part of a healthy eating style.  It is a matter of balance.  And that means energy balance, the amount of food that you eat coupled with the amount of physical activity that you do. 

So you can eat a variety of foods that you like, but you have to be aware of the balance.  And the other thing that people don‘t eat enough and need to is fruits and vegetables.  And that is why McDonald‘s in menu expansion we are introducing—this our new salad, the Fiesta salad.  We are introducing apple dippers, which is peeled sliced apples that come with a caramel sauce, a low fat caramel sauce for dipping, especially to get kids to eat fruit because it‘s fun. 

NORVILLE:  Couldn‘t you do it without the caramel sauce?

KAPICA:  It is on the side.  You don‘t have to include it.

NORVILLE:  So you could steal it.  The kids don‘t get it.  And all they know is they‘re getting apple slices.

KAPICA:  Absolutely.

I don‘t know about you, but I know as a mother I know one of the challenges is to get kids to eat fruit and if it takes them to dip into a little sauce to be able to get them to eat that apple, I think that is a fabulous thought. 

NORVILLE:  Well, I also know as a mother, if you don‘t put it in front of them and they don‘t have the option of eating the junk food, they are going to eat the healthy food if that‘s all they have got in front of them. 

KAPICA:  All food at McDonald‘s can fit into a healthy eating style.  It is a matter of getting the appropriate amount and being physically active as well, so you have that balance in your life. 

NORVILLE:  How does McDonald‘s come at the consumer that you call the heavy hitter, the 18- to 34-year-old male who eats maybe three to five times a week at McDonald‘s?  And they are the guy who orders the supersize, the large size soda, the extra size burger and fries.  Is that going to be business lost if this supersize option disappears for them at the end of the year? 

KAPICA:  Well, customers have been telling us all along that supersize is not important.  So there‘s plenty of other options available.  But once again, it is a matter of giving people the information and the choice and encouraging physical activity. 

And it doesn‘t matter what age group you are.  McDonald‘s is looking to help people find balanced lifestyle solutions.  And we are committed to that and have been for 50 years almost.  And we are going to continue to do that. 

NORVILLE:  Well, the newest thing in the bag of tricks at McDonald‘s is the Go Active Happy Meal and the apple sticks in the kids meal. 

KAPICA:  Nutrition information is on the box. 

NORVILLE:  Easier to find than looking around


NORVILLE:  ... at the restaurant.

KAPICA:  We are looking for ways to make it very easy for people to get the information that they need. 

NORVILLE:  Well, I know people who are looking for the information are grateful to hear that.

Cathy Kapica, thanks a lot for being with us.  We appreciate you coming for McDonald‘s.

NORVILLE:  Thank you, Deborah.

ANNOUNCER:  Up next, America‘s fast food mania.  Are these eat and run businesses behind our super size or do Americans just need to learn a little self-control?  We weigh that issue when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.




NORVILLE:  The fast food industry is making changes.  They say their food is getting healthier.  Healthier how?  That‘s next.


NORVILLE:  We are talking fast food. 

Joining me now is Michael Jacobson.  He‘s the executive director for the Center For Science in the Public Interest, a longtime critic of the fast food industry. 

Sir, it‘s good to see you.  You have been on a tear about fast food for a very long time.  What specifically is it that bugs you most? 


INTEREST:  Most of the fast foods that are sold are really junk, high in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar.  It is exactly what the surgeon general has warned us not to eat. 

NORVILLE:  And trans fat, for those who don‘t speak nutrition, is the stuff that makes the bad protein that makes the bad cholesterol. 

JACOBSON:  It is the stuff in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.  It‘s what fast food companies fry their foods in, McDonald‘s, Burger King, Wendy‘s, KFC.  It is something to avoid. 

NORVILLE:  And there‘s actually a move going on now.  The FDA has recommended that that level be cut and companies are now actually taking aim at that.  How can that be done in the fast food world? 

JACOBSON:  They could simply switch from the hard blocks of partially hydrogenated oil to something better, like canola oil.  And we have seen Ruby Tuesday‘s, a big restaurant chain, and Legal Sea Foods, a little restaurant chain, make that switch, leading to virtually no difference in taste, but a healthier product. 

NORVILLE:  Is it more expensive?  Is there some cost reason that a company would be reluctant to do this?

JACOBSON:  Companies have all kinds of reasons.

But as we have seen Kraft and—Nabisco has come out with trans free Triscuits.  Ruby Tuesday changed its oil.  Pepperidge Farm came out with goldfish without trans fat.  They can do it if they want.  And it is something that people should avoid it at restaurants or in supermarkets, but at restaurants it is hard to avoid because there are no ingredient labels. 

NORVILLE:  Yes, it is tricky.  And as you mentioned Ruby Tuesday, they are getting the nutritional information out there. 

What did you think about the movie “Super Size Me”?  Did you think it was unfair to McDonald‘s? 

JACOBSON:  Well, I thought it was about as unfair to McDonald‘s as some of McDonald‘s advertising is. 

Look, it wasn‘t a paper submitted to “The New England Journal of Medicine.”  It is art and it certainly exaggerates the point.  He ate just an awful diet for 30 days.  He compressed kind of—I don‘t know if it‘s lifetime of eating, but a year‘s worth of eating into one month.  But he makes a point the way artists make points, by exaggeration. 

It is that kind of diet that promotes obesity, heart disease,

diabetes, other—high blood pressure when people consume it over the year

·         over the years, I should say.  And I thought he was fair in acknowledging that this was an exaggeration, also pointing out that he was not only concerned about McDonald‘s, but all the other big restaurant chains, the fast food chains and school lunches and the kind of foods we eat at home all too often also.

NORVILLE:  As much as you may be a critic of fast food restaurants, the reality is, with 300,000 of them in America, they are not going away.

But your organization believes that there are ways, as Cathy Kapica from McDonald‘s just said, that a consumer can make smart choices as they go about it.  You have helped us put together some menus that are what you call the yikes and the better bet to go. 

And before we get into it, I just want to say, we had McDonald‘s with us just a moment ago.  Wendy‘s chose not to even make any comment.  But Burger King did make a comment.  And I think it‘s fair to share it at this point.  The folks from Burger King said to us: “Burger King‘s have it your way premise and approach to customers is to serve the menu items your way, whether it be a low-carb diet, reduced calorie or reduced-fat diet.”  That‘s from Blake Lewis, one of the spokespersons over at Burger King.

So, having said that, let‘s look at the Burger King menu that you say is a typical one some people would go and select.  And you look at it, you go, yikes, bad choice. 

JACOBSON:  That‘s right, a full day‘s worth of calories, huge amounts of fat, huge amounts of salt. 

NORVILLE:  That is a Burger King Whopper with cheese, king size fries, a big chocolate shake and a couple of chocolate chip cookies; 2,690 calories, that is the recommended daily caloric intake for an average man. 

JACOBSON:  For a young man or a teenage boy.  You waddle out of the restaurant after eating that. 

NORVILLE:  In one meal.

And yet you say you can go and have an equally satisfying meal with a lot fewer calories by simply going with this choice. 

JACOBSON:  Well, I wouldn‘t necessarily recommend this, but you‘re right.  It has fewer—it has less than half the calories, far less fat. 

But what you are really getting there is less of the bad stuff.  You are not getting much good stuff, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, things we ought to be eating more of. 

But if you are going to a fast food restaurant and if you‘re opting to go the burger route instead of the salad route, as the McDonald‘s menu that we just looked at a few minutes ago has, is there a way to do it with even less?  For instance, how much better would the last menu we‘ve seen be if you said, please hold the bun and let me skip the fries? 

JACOBSON:  Well, certainly skipping the fries would help.  Skipping the bun wouldn‘t be bad.  Skipping the cheese from the cheeseburger would be an improvement, because you get a lot of saturated fat, artery-clogging fat, from that.

But at Burger King, for instance, I would suggest a grilled chicken and one of their baguette sandwiches, or a salad, orange juice, low fat milk.  There are some better choice if you want to eat some real food.  Burger King is the only chain that has veggie burgers throughout.  And if you ask them to hold the mayonnaise, it‘s pretty good. 

NORVILLE:  All right, that‘s Burger King.  Let‘s look at some of the options from McDonald‘s.  The first menu plan is one where you say, yikes, over 2,000 calories in a Big Mac, large fries, large Coke, and a McFlurry, which is sort of the ice cream product that they offer for desserts.

JACOBSON:  Yes, one doesn‘t have to say much about that.  I think the viewers know that the large Coke has huge amounts of sugar.  And then there are huge amounts of fat in all the other items. 

NORVILLE:  But flip over to what you think is a better choice for McDonald‘s.  And that is?  Survey says, double cheeseburger.

JACOBSON:  That‘s right.  That‘s better.  But it is junk.  You

shouldn‘t eat it.  Small fries, I would recommend not eating it.  Diet Coke

·         or water, now you‘re talking.  And a baked apple pie.  There probably is a slice or two of apple in that apple pie. 

At McDonald‘s, I would recommend a salad, a fruit and yogurt parfait, orange juice, low fat milk.  And if you absolutely need a burger, then just a small hamburger. 

NORVILLE:  And going that route, you would say, perfectly fine, OK to eat at a fast food restaurant if you get the salad and the fruit parfait yogurt?

JACOBSON:  That‘s right.  That is a decent meal, having the fruit and yogurt parfait and a salad.

I‘m not against fast food restaurants.  Convenience is wonderful.  But I think what restaurants need to do, fast food and other restaurants, is make sure that they have at least a smattering of healthy options and that they improve their existing foods.  A company like McDonald‘s could use lower fat ground beef, remove some of the fat from the milk shakes.  They have diet soda.  They have orange juice, low fat mayonnaise, rather than regular. 

Put some whole grains into the buns and lower the sodium, the salt in everything. 

NORVILLE:  And real quick.  We‘re not going to bother showing the menu, but what would you suggest?  If you‘re going to Wendy‘s, what is the best choice you could make if you want to try to eat a healthy meal there? 

JACOBSON:  Probably something like their salads, their chili or their grilled chicken sandwich. 

NORVILLE:  All right, Michael Jacobson, thank for the ideas.  A lot of people do eat fast food and it is because of the convenience.  Now you have given them some ammunition to make some good choices when they do.  Appreciate your time.

JACOBSON:  Thank you. 

NORVILLE:  When we come back, what ever happened to the concept that you are responsible for what you put in your mouth?  We will get into that next. 


NORVILLE:  Well, we‘ve been looking at both sides of the fast foot debate this evening, what‘s good about it, what‘s not.  So now it‘s time for reality check.  When should you eat or what should you eat when you‘re out and fast food is the only option? 

I‘m joined by a weight control specialist Dr. Howard Shapiro.  He is also the author of “The Picture Perfect Weight Loss Plan,” a series of books to help folks get the weight off. 

Good to see you.


NORVILLE:  You‘ve been listening to the debate.  Where do you come down on all of this? 

SHAPIRO:  Well, I think the bottom line is this.  Parents are responsible for their children and what they eat.  So if you‘re taking your children to McDonald‘s, then you know what you‘re taking them to get.  And it‘s really up to you. 

McDonald‘s is making an effort on one hand in that they‘re trying to cut down the supersize portions, they‘re trying to put products on the menu that are lower calorically.  They have in the past had products and so have other fast food restaurants and nobody buys them.  Now the community is becoming more educated.  Parents are becoming a little bit more educated, because we know that obesity with kids is an epidemic.

And this is the first generation of kids that is going to have a shorter lifespan...

NORVILLE:  Because of this extra weight they‘re carrying around. 

SHAPIRO:  Because of the weight.

Kid have diabetes at a rate that we‘ve never had before, adult onset diabetes.  They have cholesterol.  They‘re going to get heart attacks in their 40s, where we have to wait until our 50s or 60s to get our heart attacks.  It‘s going to be a problem.  But the bottom line is, it‘s the parents.  Parents have to be responsible. 

NORVILLE:  What about the information that‘s out there, too, though?  I mean, if you go and look at the FDA‘s recommended food pyramid, on the bottom, they have six to 12 servings of grains.  And it‘s interesting.  You always see it on the back of a cereal box, curiously enough. 

SHAPIRO:  Right.  Right. 

NORVILLE:  There‘s some recommendations that many people in the nutrition industry take issue with. 


I have a pyramid in my book, which is Dr. Shapiro‘s picture-perfect weight loss pyramid.  And on the bottom rung of our pyramid is vegetables and fruits.  Then we have protein and then grains and then fats and then sugars.  So it‘s a little bit different.  We also don‘t talk about portions.  We don‘t say you have to have this six times a day or six portions of this.

It‘s a little bit freer.  But you should know what direction you‘re going in.  And the whole bottom line is, kids don‘t have phys-ed in school anymore.  So there‘s no exercise.  They come home.  They watch television and they play with the computer. 


NORVILLE:  Because, if they live in the city, the parents don‘t dare let them go outside and play by themselves. 

SHAPIRO:  Exactly.  Exactly.  Both parents are working.

They come home.  Half the time, there‘s no dinner meal.  And if there is, it‘ a fast food dinner meal.  So what the parents are bringing in the house is something that‘s high in calories.  Therefore, we have the problem.

NORVILLE:  But it‘s not surprising, as I lunge across the desk here for the candy bars.  This is a candy bar. 

SHAPIRO:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  It used to be you got like two little-bitty Reese‘s cups. 

Now there‘s probably four or five of them in there.  This is a Twix. 

SHAPIRO:  Right. 

NORVILLE:  That‘s a ton of food to go and get. 

SHAPIRO:  And not only that.  There are people now marketing bars, nutrition bars.  In my office, we have nutrition bars that are 150 calories.  Slim Fast has nutrition bars that are about 210, 250.  There are companies out there that have nutrition bars that are 350, 400 calories.  That‘s a candy bar.

NORVILLE:  Which is why it‘s so important that labeling be on the product, so you can read it, and you‘d say go, oh, I don‘t think so.  I‘d have to run around the block for the rest of the night to work this off. 

One of the things that you prepared for us which I think would be helpful for our viewers is, you show how you can, as we‘ve been talking about, make choices that are good, particularly if you‘re out.  And let‘s just put the first picture up there and see what we‘ve got, because this is a slice of pizza. 


NORVILLE:  You can make a big difference just on what you choose. 

SHAPIRO:  Sure.  The top piece of pizza has pepperoni.  It‘s 650 calories.  The bottom piece is just plain cheese pizza, which is really 450 calories.  And there‘s a beer with it.  So you can have the beer with it.  You‘re still saving 50 calories.  And I‘m not advising kids to have beer. 

But there‘s a big difference between just the pepperoni and not the pepperoni. 

NORVILLE:  And a big different with chicken, too, depending on how is prepared. 

SHAPIRO:  It‘s a huge difference with chicken.  Right. 

This is a different type of example.  There‘s two pieces of fried chicken on the top.  Now, we don‘t really encourage people to have fried chicken.  But just to make the point, if you had one piece of fried chicken, if you had a baked potato with salsa and the coleslaw, you are saving 100 calories and you‘re still getting the fried chicken.  So if you really want to do it—quote—“the wrong way,” yet save calories, you can.

NORVILLE:  What if you pull the crust off? 


SHAPIRO:  If it‘s not fried, it‘s much better.  You‘re saving hundreds of calories.  You‘re saving a lot of the trans fats.  And not only that, but you could even put barbecue sauce on it and it‘s still better. 

NORVILLE:  And it‘s still better. 

The next thing we‘ve got I think is what you do if you go out to the baseball game and you want to have a hot dog. 

SHAPIRO:  On the left, there is the hot dog.  The hot dog is I think 650 calories, not just the hot dog, but the hot dog, the french fries—

I‘m sorry, it‘s 880 calories, the hog dog, the french fries, and the beer.

And on the right side, you could have all of the sushi, two cups of fresh fruit, a diet soda, all of that, and a potato knish, all of that and you‘re saving yourself about 340 calories.  And you‘re eating a lot of food. 

NORVILLE:  I‘ve never seen that where I sit in the ballpark.  I guess that‘s in the fancy section, but also potatoes.  You can do some real damage or you can actually be smart about it if you order a potato. 

SHAPIRO:  Right. 

If you have french fries, it‘s going to be a lot of calories.  If you have a baked potato, it‘s not going to be that terrible.  And in my book actually we have a comparison of 14 fried onion rings.  They‘re 690 calories.  And opposite that, we have six baked potato halves with either chili on the top or pineapple on the top and it‘s the same number of calories.  So you could have six of them.  I‘m not telling people to have six.  It‘s just showing how high the onion rings are. 

NORVILLE:  So if you want to be smart about the way you go about your weight loss program, R-E-A-D.  Read. 

SHAPIRO:  Read.  Make sure that you set the example for your kids.  When you take people to a fast food restaurant, you can make healthy choices. 

NORVILLE:  All right, Dr. Shapiro, it‘s good to see you.  And we look forward to seeing that book.  I‘m going to look closer at those pictures. 

Howard Shapiro, thanks for being with us.

SHAPIRO:  My pleasure. 

NORVILLE:  When we come back, we‘ll get some more information as far as which fast foods to choose and which ones you may want to think twice about.  We‘ve got some help for you.  All you have to do is just go to our Web site, the address, NORVILLE.MSNBC.com. 

Back in a sec. 


NORVILLE:  That‘s our program for tonight.  Thanks so much for watching.  I‘m Deborah Norville. 

Coming up tomorrow night, Joan Lunden.  For years, millions woke up watching her on TV.  But since her morning television days, she‘s been very busy.  She‘s got a new book and her latest project, raising a new set of twins.  Tomorrow night, Joan Lunden will talk about the extraordinary lengths that she and her husband went through to give birth. 

That‘s our program for tonight. 

Coming up next, Joe Scarborough on why not everyone is against torture.  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is coming up next. 

Thanks a lot for watching.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night.



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