Don’t blame fast food


Weighing In


There are some who believe fast food restaurants are responsible for childhood obesity. As a child, I don’t recall driving myself to McDonald’s and purchasing dinner. So why are fast food restaurants being blamed for childhood obesity? In reality, anytime we had fast food for dinner, my mom purchased our meals, which is usually the case for today’s children. So, doesn’t the fault lie with the parents? Not necessarily. There are a number of factors, not only the fault of the fast food restaurants. Cooked meals have been substituted with pizza and burgers because parents are too busy to prepare home cooked meals. We have become a society of convenience, which has led to laziness. How many of us forgo the dining hall and instead grab something from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks between classes? We don’t make time to plan ahead to ensure we get a proper meal. I’m guilty of this as well. We are living in what many have dubbed the “microwave” society. We want everything fast and don’t want to wait to receive it, including food. Is it McDonald’s or Burger King’s fault that we patronize their establishment? Think about it — if someone is willing to give you money for greasy food, would you turn it down? According to the CDC, between 2009 and 2010, almost 17 percent of America’s youth were obese. Children cannot be expected to learn proper nutrition when parents aren’t making the time to show them.  A change in diet is what’s needed, but what about the cost of healthy foods? Fresh produce costs more than its processed counterparts. This disparity among fresh vs. processed is highest among low-income families. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2010, those living in poverty experienced a huge increase in obesity among children. Many low-income families live in the inner cities where there is less likely to be a grocery store selling healthy or fresh foods. A gallon of milk can cost around $3, but a liter of soda can be bought for half that amount. Those who can’t afford to spend the extra cash will go for the least expensive in most cases. Exercise is also a factor when considering the cause of childhood obesity. When I was younger, I can remember playing outside for hours. We would run around playing hide-and-go-seek or kickball until it was time for dinner. Most kids these days don’t want to be outside; they would rather remain inside and watch “Phineas and Ferb” or sit behind a video game console playing Modern Warfare. Schools have even cut back on physical education and recess, which was the only exercise some children received on a day-to-day basis.  The implementation of the first lady, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program is one of a few programs geared toward fighting childhood obesity. According to the program, African-American and Hispanic children account for 40 percent of obesity here in America. Mrs. Obama’s program is aiming to teach parents and children about nutrition, change school lunches and make healthy foods available to all Americans. By 2030, they hope to lower the rate of childhood obesity to 5 percent. There are those who are against the government getting involved because they feel this may be the first step in the government enforcing other rules on what Americans should eat, however this program will lead to a healthier country and decrease the rise in weight related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. So next time you go to a fast food restaurant, remember there are other options out there. We have the option to continue to get our French fries, or take the time to have a healthy meal. Don’t put the blame on fast food. You are your own individual.

Courtney Averette is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. Her column, “Weighing In,” runs on alternate Fridays.

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