The New York Times recently ran an article on McDonald's. It said that three new McDonald's come on line every day that a corporate goal is to have no American more than four minutes from one of its restaurants and that seven percent of Americans eat at McDonald's on any given day. And that's only one chain. This is capitalism at its best to be sure, but what effect is it having on us? McDonald's signs now say `billions and billions served.' When it becomes `trillions and trillions,' will we be better off?
Q: Why is the fast food industry so successful?
A: It has made many marketing breakthroughs. One was serving breakfast. Others were the drive-in window and package meals--what McDonald's calls super-value meals. And now we have very large sizes--what they call supersizes.
The industry's influence is so pernicious and pervasive that many, perhaps most, American children recognize the word `supersize' as a verb. It's just part of our culture.
Q: It's not just fast food. Our studies show that a typical meal at an ordinary restaurant has 1,000 calories, and that's without the dessert or appetizer.
A: One of the first things people from other countries notice when they visit the U.S. are the large portions served in restaurants. In most of the world, there's no such thing as a doggie bag.
Q: And food is available everywhere, all the time.
A: Yes. It seems like every service station has been remodeled to put a food market inside. You can drive down the road in many communities and pass five or six service stations, fast food restaurants, and convenience stores in less than a mile.
One Exxon station near my home has not only a food market with the usual chips and snack foods, but also a Dunkin' Donuts franchise inside it. And a Texaco station off the interstate had a food market, Dunkin' Donuts, and Subway.
Fast food is infiltrating our culture. There are fast food restaurants inside some schools. Malls have food courts. Fast foods are showing up on airline flights and in airports. It's basically everywhere.
Q: And schools that don't house fast food chains serve hamburgers, pizza, tacos, or other fast foods anyway.
A: Right. You can argue that we're biologically programmed to eat such food because it's high in fat: and sugar. Laboratory rats will eat that kind of food if you give them access to it, and they can become quite obese.
Animals--and people--evolved in an environment where food was scarce and calorie expenditures were high. Under those conditions, being programmed to eat high-calorie food is adaptive. Those ancient genes wouldn't be a problem if the environment weren't so damaging.
Q: The ancient genes programmed our ancestors to eat high-calorie foods to sustain people in times of scarcity?
A: Exactly. But there's no scarcity today, and we expend far fewer calories. The environment has only changed over the past hundred years, and it takes thousands or millions of years for evolution to catch up and change our ancient genes. The environment has changed too quickly Read More Clic Here fat diminisher.
Q: What about sedentary lifestyles?
A: This is terribly important. The toxic environment is a combination of food and lack of physical activity. The remote control, video games, the automobile, television, and to some extent the computer are all part of the toxic environment because they discourage people from being physically active.
Q: Aren't there barriers to physical activity?
A: Some people live in neighborhoods where they can't go outside because walking or running is too dangerous, and they don't have money to join health clubs. Plus, given that we're becoming fatter as a society, it becomes less appealing to exercise.
And energy-saving devices are part of who we are. We can't get rid of the remote control or the computer. Those devices will continue to creep into our daily lives so there'll be even less need to be physically active. That means that people are going to have to get physical activity on their own time and in their own way.
Q: Do other countries have less-toxic environments?
A: Yes. And they have less obesity, too. There's an alarming increase in obesity, like we see in the U.S., but they start at a lower level. As the environment changes, those countries will have more diet problems, as we do.