The "Obesity Epidemic" - Poor, Minorities Hardest Hit

The Times goes English-only? A business reporter bashes McDonald's for advertising its new giant soft drink in several languages.

In his Sunday Business section story, "Did McDonald's Give In to Temptation?" (hat tip Opinion Journal) reporter Andrew Martin took a surprisingly moralistic look at the corporation's new menu.

One wonders what the paper's beef is with McDonald's, which after allprovides safe, inexpensive food to the lower-to-middle-class section of society the Times claims to care about (and free bathroom facilities for the homeless, at least in Times Watch's neck of the woods). But apparently some things can't be forgiven. The source of the Times' angst? McDonald's is re-introducing its giant-size soda under a new name, "The Hugo."

"It wasn't too long ago that the only thing McDonald's seemed good at was making people fat.

"Staggered by overexpansion, listless sales and a barrage of negative publicity linking its food to obesity, the chain's glory days appeared to be fading.

"In 2003, company executives set about reinventing McDonald's by focusing on getting better rather than bigger. In the last few years, McDonald's has seemed to do just about everything right.

"The chain has spruced up its restaurants, improved its advertising and introduced menu items that have helped to reshape its image and reinvigorate sales.

"Premium salads and apple dippers brought moms back. Chicken wraps lured people during off-hours; higher-quality coffee turbocharged breakfast business.

"McDonald's stock price has quadrupled in the last four years, and the company has reported positive same-store sales, an important industry measure, every month since April 2003.

"Given those results, a new McDonald's menu item is a bit of a stunner. Remember Supersize sodas? They're back, except this time the chain is trying a new name. Meet the 'Hugo,' a 42-ounce drink now available for as little as 89 cents in some markets. A Hugo soda contains about 410 calories."

Martin goes un-P.C.: "McDonald's might as well have called it the Tubbo."

"Making matters worse, Hugo ads are available in several languages, making sure that minorities - who are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic - are aware of the budget beverage."

As James Taranto at Opinion Journalobserved: "Who'd have expected the Times to join the English-only movement?"

Despite the Times' wording, obesity isn't in fact a contagious disease (though the Times does front an intriguing report today by Gina Kolata suggesting that if you have a close friend who is obese, you may soon be following in his heavy footsteps).