Fast food can put you on a fast track to the grave.
The fat, the sodium and the calories can catapult you to the dark side by increasing your weight and blood pressure and clogging your arteries.
Eating responsibly can be hard if you fall under the spell of such slick slogans as “I’m loving it,” “Have it your way,” and Super Size It.”
For example, for a man my size and weekly exercise level, I should take in no more than 2,950 calories, 1500 milligrams of sodium and 16 grams of saturated fat per day, according to USDA Dietary Guidelines. If I even looked at a Hardee’s Monster Thick Burger which weighs in at 1,420 calories, 2,770 milligrams of sodium and 43 grams of saturated fat, I’d shorten my life span. This Monster makes the Baconator look like health food. It has only 830 calories, 1,920 milligrams of sodium and 22 grams of saturated fat.
Throw in a side of fries and a soft drink and I’d be limited to eating rice cakes for a month. And, I hate rice cakes. They have the consistency of dried cow chips and the bland taste of corregated cardboard.
No Monsters for me.
No Baconators either.
You would think by now everyone would know gulping down Monsters and Baconators would be unhealthy. But, you would be wrong as evidenced by America’s fat kids. And, who’s to blame?
Not the kids.
Of course, it’s the fast food industry, claims The Center for Science in the Public Interest. And, it wants government to do something about it. The center recently released a report that shows many children’s meals pack up to 1,000 calories and are spiked with fat and sodium. It claims American children get a third of their food from eating in restaurants, so they are being trained to choose unhealthy high caloric food.
The center claims this lifestyle leads to higher healthcare costs to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes for all of us. It wants government to require menu labeling at chain restaurants similar to the labeling food manufacturers are required to put on their packages.
Nearly 78 percent of Americans favor such labeling, the center claims.
I am not one of them.
Most services we add to government cost too much to monitor and too much to enforce. Let the marketplace work and promote personal responsibility. The market is already working. Subway is the fastest growing fast food chain in America. It lists caloric and sodium levels either on the menu board or in a handout. Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, another fast-growing chain, uses all natural chicken raised without antibiotics on a vegetable diet and naturally raised pork and beef in some of its locations. These successes have not gone unnoticed by other chains. Most are offering healthier choices along with their usual fare of fat and salt laden meat and potatoes. We, as consumers and parents, should force these changes by the choices we make both in the chains we visit and the menu options we choose.
Personally, I’d like to see nutrition labeling at fast food chains, but not at the cost of another bureaucratic program. Besides, it doesn’t take a genius to know that a Baconator with six strips of bacon and two slices of American cheese is not a healthy choice.
So, you have to ask yourself, why do they do it?
Profit, of course. So much cheese and bacon makes one thirsty and soft drinks are the most profitable item on a fast food chain’s menu.
So, what’s the solution to making us a healthier nation, which in turn saves us in health care costs?
Some of you already have them. We here at The Press will start ours at the first of the year. The yearly deductible for an employee will increase from $500 to $2,500. However, the employee can earn a $500 credit for hitting certain targets. For the first year these targets are: a blood pressure of 140/90; LDL cholesterol of less than 160 and a body mass index of 30 kg/m2. And, as you might expect, no tobacco use.
Hit these targets, or if it is unhealthy to hit them, make progress towards them under a doctor’s supervision and you can reduce your deductible by as much as $2,000. That incentive will have most of us scrambling to eat healthier and exercise more. And, as more of us do this, we will eat less Baconators and the fast food industry will change on its own.