McDonald's aggressively markets to kids

To the editor:

As a dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, I want to clear up some misstatements made in Steve Chapman's recent commentary on McDonald's ("Moralizing against McDonald's," May 25 Review-Journal) and explain why our organization is concerned by McDonald's marketing to kids.

First, the foods the chain markets to kids are clearly unhealthy. For example, the chain's Mighty Kids Meals has 840 calories, 37 grams of fat, and about as much sodium as a child should consume in a whole day. The article's author suggests that children's love of high-fat food develops independently of marketing. But UCLA researchers have found that TV watching is associated with obesity only among kids who watch TV with commercials.

McDonald's marketing to kids is aggressive. In addition to online games and TV commercials, the company has by-passed parents by advertising on elementary school report cards, hosting in-store "nutrition workshops" for youth, and teaming up with Scholastic to market Ronald McDonald to pre-schoolers.

Let me also set the record straight on the article's misstatements about our organization. In the early 1990s, the American Medical Association made critical remarks about PCRM's nutrition advocacy. These criticisms were later withdrawn. Because the fast-food industry continued to exploit the AMA's past criticisms of PCRM, the AMA issued an official statement on Feb. 10, 2004, saying that those criticisms were no longer current.

Susan Levin

Washington, D.C.

The writer is director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Behind bars

To the editor:

Your May 27 editorial, "Jail break," rightly voices concerns that due to overcrowding, more than 30,000 prisoners in the California prison system might be released to the community. Doing so is in itself both an insane and a criminal act.

The Review-Journal suggests that some prisoners be "outsourced" to other states for their confinement. I have a better, more cost-effective outsourcing alternative.

Gov. Jerry Brown should identify Mexicans in his prison population who are dangerous felons, and who are in the United States illegally, and then negotiate with Mexico to have them transferred to Mexican prisons. Mexico could open more prisons and hire additional staff. This would help the Mexican economy and is preferable to just giving U.S foreign aid to Mexico.

The cost to incarcerate in Mexican prisons must be significantly less than the $50,000 per year, per inmate, it costs in California. This would keep these dangerous people off the streets of California and do so at markedly reduced cost.

There is even an element of compassion. With these prisoners in their home country, family visitations would be easier for spouses and children who currently reside in Mexico.

Finally, there is the issue of incarceration as a deterrent to future crime. I am sure the conditions in Mexican prisons are not as comfortable as they are in California prisons. Being more uncomfortable in prison might serve as a stronger deterrent to future of

Michael J. Di Bella

North Las Vegas