The first vegetarian burger offered nationwide by a major fast-food chain is coming. A non-soy product is among 14 items that Burger King will debut through 2002 in a bid to freshen up its menu.

In 2001, McDonald's unveiled its New Tastes Menu, a rotational menu format that permits franchisees to diversify their offerings beyond the usual burger and fries. Burger King's new menu items include a variety of new burgers and desserts, some of them very similar to McDonald's standards.

For instance, Burger King will debut a ¼-lb. burger and another called the King Supreme, which will be similar to McDonald's Big Mac. Burger King also plans to debut a thicker milkshake nationally, as well as adding some wrinkles to its classic Whopper.

Vegetarianism in teenagers may be a red flag for eating disorders and other problems relating to low self-image. That's the conclusion of a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The study found that vegetarian adolescents are more weight- and body-conscious and more prone to eating disorders and using unhealthy weight control practices, including diet pills, laxatives and vomiting, than their meat-eating counterparts, reports Reuters.

“Our study indicates that adolescent vegetarians are more likely than adult vegetarians to be vegetarians for weight-control than for health reasons,” says the University of Minnesota's Cheryl Perry, one of the researchers.

The study of 5,000 urban middle- and high-school students in Minnesota found that 6% called themselves vegetarians or did not eat meat. Of that 6%, nearly three-fourths were females and nearly half were white. And, the dominant reason for following a vegetarian diet was a desire to lose or maintain weight.

Telling consumers about the convenience and nutrition of beef. That's the aim of a series of commercials to air on cable and network television in the coming months. The goal is to build awareness among 25- to 54-year-old mothers about the new heat-and-serve beef products and the nutritional value of beef.

The first of three schedules lasting three weeks each kicked off in January with the convenience message taking center stage. In March, both convenience and nutrition will be the focus. Then, in May, the commercials will highlight nutrition only.

The checkoff-funded commercials will run nearly 1,400 times in 2002 and will be seen by 55 million women with children about 10 times each. This amounts to 92% of U.S. women in the 25-54 age group, says Texas beef producer Linda Joy Stovall, chairman of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's advertising committee.