Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Soap Box

Ok. So I was just on the weather page checking out how hot its supposed to be in the next few days, and I see a poll.

Who is most to blame for America's obesity problem?
1) the individual
2) the fast food companies
3) our 'more is more' culture
4) other

My vote lies somewhere between the individual and fast food companies. Yes, we should be responsible for what we choose to put in our bodies. However...lets look at a few examples, shall we?

Quarter Pounder with Cheese
Large fries
Large soda (not diet)

The total calories here add up to 1390. Fat? 56 grams. Sodium? 1520 mg. That's insanity! You would be consuming 87% of your daily value of fat, and 64% of your sodium. In one meal.

Ok, well, they have healthier options. You could get a salad! Ok, how about the Premium Southwest Salad with crispy chicken? 450 calories, 21 grams of fat, and 970mg of sodium. That's not too bad. Now you could go with the grilled chicken and shave off 130 calories, but you're still at 9 grams of fat, and no less sodium. Make sure you opt for fat free salad dressing.

On their website they boast 8 subs that have less than 500 calories. They don't, however, tell you how much fat or sodium or fiber they contain. Hmm.

Taco Bueno
Chicken Nacho Salad sounds like a healthy choice, right? Wrong.
713 calories, 43g of fat, 1911mg of sodium. ACK!

If you're more in the mood for a Taco Salad, why not try the Beef variety? It only has 1043 calories, 75g of fat, and 1705mg of sodium. GOOD LORD. 75 grams of fat. In a salad.

Of course, there's always Subway. But why is Subway one of the only healthy alternatives out there? Sure you can sometimes find healthy choices at other fast food joints, but who wants to eat salad all the time?

If I can make dinner at home that is tasty and healthy, why is it so hard for fast food places? Sure, I can drive right on by Whataburger, Arby's, Taco Bell, blah blah blah...but what if those places started offering healthy choices in the menus? Maybe baked fries instead of grease fried? Or burgers made with lean meat? I'd even be willing to pay a bit more.

So. Who is most to blame for America's obesity problem?


Amanda Peterson said...

I agree that the fast food industry has added a great deal to the obesity problem. However, I also believe that fast food, along with other industries, has responded to society's demand for cheap and fast food. Yes we can prepare healthy "fast" meals at home, but fast food restaurants are feeding much more than one to four people. This means they have to put in a lot of unhealthy stuff to make it stay "fresh" longer and to make sure they are making a profit at the end of the day.

Ultimately it is the consumer who drives what kind of food fast food chains offer. And fast food isn't changing because as a consumption society we aren't changing our habits to respond to all the new information we are receiving about the obesity epidemic. I would be very surprised if any fast food chain (including Subway who makes majority of their profits off of their fattiest, starchiest subs) actually changed there ways as long as they continue to make a profit with the old ways.

heather said...

I agree, BUT. I see in the near future a warning on fast food labels much like you find on cigarette lables:

'This meal contains 50% of your daily value of fat.' Or 'Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, this meal is over half of your daily allowance.'

I think people's incessant patronage at fast food chains would likely diminish if the caloric content of their food was displayed prominently, instead of hidden deep within their website (or not present at all).

Amanda Peterson said...

I think that's a great idea. And hope that our government can move toward such a goal.