Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I can't have a Big Mac?

Everywhere we look there is something new pointing to the dangers of being overweight. Now laws are being passed banning this or enforcing that in an effort to make consumers aware of what we eat.

Yesterday a headline read: "L.A. wants to clamp yearlong ban on fast food" in which
"The City Council was poised to vote Tuesday on a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in a swath of the city where a proliferation of such eateries goes hand-in-hand with obesity."
We are now going to have our choice of food restricted by the city and/or state because they are grouping all of us as obese? What about those of us who are not? I know McDonalds might not be the healthiest choice for dinner, but on occasion I like to go and eat a Quarterpounder and fries.

A few weeks ago this article was released "New York City Resturants post calorie information but others lag behind."
The new rules are part of an anti-obesity campaign that has also included a recent citywide ban on artificial trans fats in restaurant food.

Calorie information has long been made available to the public via websites and pamphlets in the eateries, however in many instances (as made public by the movie SuperSize Me) many times this nutritional information is not properly posted or is unavailable at locations. With the ruling in New York, the calorie information will be posted next to the food item in the same size font as the price. Talk about a shocker.

As an avid eater food conossour I am always interested in food trends and health. In early July, the latest results of of the 'fattest states' were released. My state ranks #3 on this list, so perhaps I should care less about the regulations, but I think perhaps there is more to blame than just the food.

  1. Activity -It is a well known fact that we, as americans, are not the most active group of people. If you think about it, most of us spend 8-10 hours in an office, typically behind a computer. The only real workout we get is our fingers going type-type-type on the keyboard. Technology affords us the luxury of not having to get out of our chairs by enabling us to email documents instead of hand walk them, google information instead of manually searching thru stacks of books. Just for giggles wear a pedometer to work one day and see how many steps you actually take from the time you leave your house to the time you leave work - if I don't make a conscious effort at work to get up and move, I don't get very many at all
  2. Cost - Along with health news there is massive information floating around drawing our attention to the economic turmoil all around. Recession, depression, economic downslide, fall of the dollar-these are all terms that have been spouted at some point in time. Fall out of this...higher grocery prices. Milk is right at $4 a gallon. Come on - seriously, a cow's milk cost that much and we're not even talking organic. Fresh vegetables have gone up, fresh meat has gone up...what items are cheaper in the stores??? Frozen, prepacked goods and canned items. The larger your family, the harder it is to buy all fresh all organic.

It's a sad thing when I can go to the grocery store and buy 2lbs of lean ground hamburger meat, a package of buns, lettuce, tomatos, pickles and cheese and spend $20 when for the same $20 I could have gotten 2 value meals and 2 kids meals for the same price - which included fries and a drink. Bottom line, fast food is cheap.

I thought it only fair to mention this article "Heavy? It might be your neighborhood"
A new study found that the year your neighborhood was built may be just as important as diet and exercise for shedding pounds. Those who live in neighborhoods built before 1950 are trimmer than their counterparts who reside in more modern communities, the study reported.
I agree with the take away message of the study:
“The take away message is that we’ve got to start building communities the way we used to. Prior to World War II, we basically built walkable communities, but for last 60 years we’ve been building sprawl and people don’t have to be physically active as part of their daily lives.”
I like having things within walking distance and am more apt to walk there as opposed to drive across town for the same thing (especially with the rise in gas prices.) But even still, food is only part of the problem, activity levels are another part.

Don't get me wrong - I'm an advocate of healthy eating, teach our children and ourselves how to eat properly and it will go along way. I'm also a fan of being busy. We do not sit in front of the computer/Wii all day, we get out and take bike rides or walks in the neighborhood and play sports. I just don't think that rules and regulations should be imposed on me and my family's choice of foods.

What are your thoughts on National Obesity and the changes taking place?


Semi-Charmed Wife said...

I'm conflicted. On one hand, we live in a free society. If I want to, I can smoke cigarettes. I can drink excessive amounts of alcohol. I can refuse to exercise. I can eat like a pig. My health is MY choice. And I kind of resent that state and local governments treat adults like children. People aren't stupid--they KNOW that fast food is unhealthy, but they choose to eat it anyway. Isn't that their right?

On the other hand, there are people raising their kids with horrible eating habits--kids that are too young to know better and make healthy decisions for themselves. And that bothers me.

Maybe the government should focus its efforts on getting healthy food into schools and education for kids and leave the adults to make their own decisions?

Kellan said...

I heard about this law they were trying to pass in CA and think it is CRAZY! I think they are just going to far! I am fine with the fast food restaurants changing the way they cook things so that it is a bit healthier - but, I don't think they should ever be required to change their menu in order to try to make sure people are eating healthier. It's up to individuals to take care of themselves - not the government or anyone else! It's getting CRAZY - just like oil prices and milk prices - CRAZY!

Great post, Kel - see you - Kellan

April said...

While I, too, am an advocate for healthier eating habits in our country...I DO NOT agree with them "banning" fast food. Hello freedom of speech? but yet, we won't have "freedom of eat"? LOL Sorry, I couldn't think of how else to say it. I think it is a family's responsibility to monitor their member's eating habits, not our state or government. That seems way too controlling to me. Like you said, some days I just want a fast food fix (I rarely eat fast to me it's liek a "treat") or I have it if we're having a supremely busy day and unable to cook.


I think these bans are absolutely absurd. People need to stop blaming 'society' and take responsibility for their own actions. It's not a newsflash that a greasy cheeseburger is not the healthiest option, nutrition labels or no. It's the responsibility of the person who picks it up and eats it, and NOBODY else's.

krissy said...

I totally agree. A lot of obese people coulld lose weight by eating healthier and exercising. I know that some medical conditions and medications cause havoc on the metabolism but exercise and eating healthy should be even more important.

McDonalds is cheap. It is way cheaper then a trip to the store. How do we fix it??? We don't! The government cannot control this. It is a personal choice! And eating healthy and exercising is a life change....and some people don't like change.

Did this make sense? Because I am doped up on some Tylenol PM right now and I may not make sense. Sorry....blogging and tylenol PM don't mix well! I know this for a fact considering this is my 5th try on the word verification. Shit!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I think people have to take personal responsibility for the choices they make. This summer, I chose to eat horribly...while on numerous vacations. Now I have to pay the price and do the work to lose the weight I put on when I chose to eat the wrong things. Do I need the government to come in and restrict my choices for that to happen...not so much!

Jim said...

You said:
" I just don't think that rules and regulations should be imposed on me and my family's choice of foods."

Maybe, but the fact is that government actions (or inactions) do make a big difference in our lives. It is government decisions which determine whether a given location gets occupied by a fast food joint or a healthier restaurant, and whether neighborhoods have those walking areas you mentioned, or whether neighborhoods get divided by expressways (with those fast food places everywhere). And government decisions determine whether foods have informative nutrition labeling, and whether proper inspections are made of our food supply and the restaurants. You can make a nice-sounding case for less regulation but we as individuals just can't do all the things ourselves. We sometimes need strong government policies.

Jojo said...

I agree that government shouldn't regulate what choices people make for their food intake. It seems now the only people who walk are city residents. In our town, there are basically no sidewalks, and I originally moved here from DC...I thought this was ridiculous. Now I have to drive everywhere which is in itself limiting my activity. You can't control how people eat...I like a Big Mac now and then, but I know that it's not healthy and don't eat it all the time. I like NY's policy with the nutritional info right next to the food. I think visual reminders like that will help make people more conscious.