Wednesday, July 30, 2008


It appears that the city of Los Angeles will soon be placing a temporary moratorium on fast food restaurants in low-income areas. It's nice to see a governing body recognize that health issues have socio-economic causes too, but blaming this one on fast food is completely misguided.

Research suggests that childhood obesity is more a result of inactivity (i.e. videogames and TV) and lifestyle than dietary choices. Hard Chillin love the kids, but McDonald's offers a somewhat reasonable way to feed a family of four on like six-fifty. Sometimes you need a fallback like that when life gets real. Eating a double cheeseburger isn't ideal, but it's better than a mustard sandwich.

I guess you could argue that the city council is also attempting to combat the kid-oriented branding and marketing efforts that fast food restaurants are famous for, but that seems like a secondary aim of the bill. So if not the kids, then what? The adults?

The real problem with fast food isn't the fatty meats and condiments - it's the full-calorie sodas and french fries. A Double Whopper (even with cheese and mayonnaise!) has roughly 1,000 calories. A king-size fries and Coke also has 1,000 calories. At least you're getting some protein and fiber in with the burger.

I guess the real issue here is at what point paternalism becomes necessary for consumers. Banning fast food restaurants really doesn't make a whole lot of sense unless you already have a plan to establish restaurants that offer healthier options at a similar price. Until we can do that, wouldn't it make more sense to put a moratorium on Value Combos?

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