This weekend, a car full of us drove to Los Angeles and back. On the return trip, we stopped at In-N-Out Burger, which sparked a conversation about fast food chains. We agreed that while the ubiquitous McDonald’s is not that tempting, In-N-Out is another story. We were happy the only one in town is at Fisherman’s Wharf, where none of us ever goes. Because we know, of course, that fast food shouldn’t be a staple of our diet, right? It went without saying that all of us, who are a reasonably health-conscious bunch, try to avoid it as much as possible.
I was reminded of this discussion when I read the results of a Canadian study that found a direct correlation between obesity and the proximity of fast food.
For every extra fast-food restaurant per 10,000 people, a city’s obesity rate goes up 3%, said Sean Cash, a health economics professor who drew up an obesity map that plotted obesity rates and the density of the top 10 fast-food chains in Canada. “The strong relationship really suggests that access to fast food may indeed be one of the issues that may explain increasing obesity rates… We were surprised by the strength of the relationship, but we weren’t surprised to find that there was a relationship. This has been a likely culprit that has been discussed quite a bit over the last few years. This provides support for that view.”
I guess the correlation isn’t news to me. At times, when I do get fast food, I have been self-conscious about it. I feel like “oh, of course, the fatty wants a Big Mac!” even though I most likely eat fast food no more often than many of my thinner counterparts. (I’d be interested to hear how often normal-weight people eat fast food.)
So, there’s a stigma to fast food, and it’s not entirely undeserved, but does that make it right? I find it a tricky issue to figure out, quite frankly. I don’t want to assign morality to food, but Pizza Hut now has a type of pizza where each slice contains 580 calories, and I kind of think it’s irresponsible to make something like that. I blame the people who make it, though, not the people who eat it. I’m not sure why that is, considering that for the most part, I am all about personal choices and personal responsibility. Maybe it’s that I’ve been working in advertising too long.
Some more interesting statistics:
According to a report published in Chicago Tribune, fast-food consumption is more in higher-income households, young boys, older children, African-Americans and children living in the south, whereas fast food consumption is found to be low in youngsters living in the West, rural areas, Hispanics, white women and those aged 4 to 8. Due to the increase in the number of fast food outlets, fast food prevails in virtually every segment of the society, including hospitals and schools, as per a study on fast food & obesity by Harvard School of Public Health.
Can that really be true? There is more fast food consumption in higher income households? I always thought it was the opposite. (I can’t find the original Chicago Tribune report.)
So anyway, now I’m wondering. How often do you eat fast food? How does it fit into your life? Do you think it boils down to class, convenience, cash? Is there a fast food stigma? I’d love to know your thoughts.
Posted by mo pie