Does fast food make people fat? The city of Los Angeles is considering banning any new fast food restaurants in an attempt to address the growing obesity problem. Like other Americans, residents of LA are becoming increasingly obese. Councilwoman Perry’s proposal was made as an attempt to address their obesity problem.
Currently across America and in South Los Angeles, there is obesity epidemic. Obesity can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease among other problems that are caused. Most fast food restaurants serve food that is high in fat and calories, contributing to this problem.
In 1997, 14% of adults were obese; in 2005, 30% of adults are obese, and 29% of children are classified as obese according to the LA Dept. of Public Health. South LA has a high population of poor people as well.
In a recent press release, Connie Diekman, R.D., director of University nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and president of the American Dietetic Association said, “People always want to make a change in healthy eating by making mandates or requirements…what we really need to be focusing on is changing people’s behaviors, which just isn’t that simple.”
Fast food restaurants are all over South LA, and the press reports that there are fewer grocery stores in this area compared to other parts of the city. Additionally, other studies indicate that poor people tend to eat more unhealthy food than healthy food. Does this contribute to obesity?
She went on to say, “We need to teach people about proper nutrition, encourage more grocery stores to provide healthier food choices in all neighborhoods and find ways to make physical activity accessible.”
Rather than make laws dictating what can, and can’t be built, she suggests that the city tackle the larger problem of obesity. Unhealthy lifestyles and the easy availability of unhealthy fast food instead of healthy food are contributors. South LA also has a high rate of poverty and people receiving food stamps. The incidence of diabetes is also rising.
Instead of banning the construction of new fast food restaurants, the city could pursue other avenues to help people live healthier lifestyles and tackle obesity. Adding parks and walking trails in the city would be one avenue. This could encourage people to get out of their homes and use the parks and paths.
Another possibility raised by Diekman was “to talk to the current restaurants about providing more healthy options.” Unfortunately, salads and fresher foods are often far more expensive than the typical hamburger, so people who do not have a lot of money may opt for the cheaper alternative so they can eat.
Even if this proposal does not pass, it is a start in the right direction because it has focused attention on the problem of obesity in the city, the propensity of unhealthy food, and the problems many people have finding healthy alternatives.
What do you think?