I apologize for the disappearing post yesterday. Here it is again, almost in its original form.
I read an article by HungryGirl over on Yahoo called Attack of the 1000-Calorie Meals which spotlighted a few of the most fat-laden meals at chain restaurants. What made me angry and sad at the same time were many of the comments that followed. A good number of commentators held the attitude, “We’re all going to die. May as well eat what we want” and “The government can’t tell me what to eat.”
Many people also commented that outrageously high caloric food items are “special treats,” things people don’t eat “every day” and when they do, people just need to “work out more” to make up for it. First of all, it is quite clear just looking out into any crowd that fat-laden, processed and unnutritious foods are not special treats, otherwise 65 percent of our populace wouldn’t be overweight or obese, and people are not working out more to make up for it. Also, there are long-term consequences for eating high-fat, low-nutrient foods even as “special treats.”
It’s time to open a can of whoop-ass on this country’s dietary ignorance.
I agree that the government shouldn’t tell us what to eat, but I believe in serious food regulations. The government forced cigarette and liquor companies to place health warnings on their products. So, too, should restaurants. And I’m not talking nutritional information brochures in every restaurant. Nope. I want full disclosure under each menu item: calories, fat and sodium content, the whole nine yards. Now I realize many Mom and Pop places have complained of the financial burden this would create for them. OK, how about they give a list of ingredients, just like we see on food packages in the grocery store? The only thing they’d have to change is their menu or maybe buy a bigger chalkboard.
And if these seems too constricting for adults, too “big brother,” I believe we, as a nation, are morally obligated to do something to save our children. Obesity is slowly killing them and robbing them of quality of life.
Do we really want to live in a society with, according to a paper published last year by Johns Hopkins University, an overweight and obesity rate of 86 percent by 2030? As Barbara Berkeley wrote on our Refuse to Regain blog last week, “The huge burden of disease that will come along with such an increase is expected to raise obesity related health-care spending from the current $100 billion to over $960 billion per year.”
And we thought the stimulus package was expensive. This is an every year expense, folks, not a one-time deal.
Education and regulation are imperative. Now. This isn’t about thwarting individual choice. It’s about helping people make better choices, and if they choose not to, they need to understand the health and economic price that they and everyone will pay.
I had a few other questions go through my mind when I wrote this:
1. Restaurants have long said that they’re just giving consumers what they want when they create their high-fat menus. I argue they are creating an atmosphere of want. If more restaurants created healthy alternatives, I believe people would, in time and with education, choose those items, too.
2. Is it possible to create a culture of healthy eating? And if so, how?
3. Who is more culpable? Is it always the individual or do food corporations and restaurants have a moral obligation to stop creating foods that are potential carcinogens?
Leave a comment. I look forward to the discussion.
Note to Anonymous who left a comment on yesterday’s erased post: I appreciate your passion and I thought you brought out some excellent points that I considered when reposting this blog entry sans the paragraph that set you off. While I stand by the spirit of what I wrote, I can see how the tone was biased and unfair.