Low Prices Don’t Lead to Healthier Choices

In order to capitalize on the quickly growing “healthy” eating trend in America, fast food restaurants have started to carry healthier options.  The most popular fast food restaurants have recently spent millions advertising their healthy meals such as, Wendy’s  “Garden Sensations Salads” and McDonald’s Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (that actually has more calories than a BigMac).  Regardless, these are cheap healthier options that should satisfy any newliy health-concious American looking for a healthy option that is also very conveinient.  Strangely enough this isn’t quite the case.

In 2003, McDonald’s was having a lot of problems – sales were down almost 56% and the company had reported it’s first quarterly loss ever.  Then, over the next three years McDonald’s made a comback and sales have been rising since.  At first thought you may think this may have something to do with the increase of healthy options such as fruits, salads as french fry supplements.  If that’s the case, you’d be wrong.  McDonald’s revival was due in most part to the dollar menu, which included cheap, satisfying items at a cost almost everyone can afford.

We focused a lot on the price of healthy foods in our discussion in class.  Many people suggested we need to work to make healthy foods more affordable and organic options more expansive, yet the case of the fast-food industry seems to contradict these ideas.  It’s easy to say that you are more health conscious in a survey and that healthier options are more attractive, but deep down Americans love their big, greasy, and certainly NOT organic BigMacs and Whoppers.  I believe that when it comes down to it price has very little to do with our eating habits, instead it is our culture that is to blame.

This may be getting away from the question of how to get locally grown food more affordable, but I see our unhealthy eating habits as a much more severe problem in our society.

If you begin to look beyond price or the idea that lowering price leads to healthier people, we can start to really think about what needs to be done to change the way Americans eat.  It clearly needs to start with children via education in schools and at home.  Kids need to be taught the importance of being healthy and since they very offen mimic their parents behavior, parents too need to transform their eating habits.  We can even look to the organizations that have seemingly caused much of this issue to remedy the situation.

Let’s say that McDonald’s really does totally revamp their menu to include only healthy options under a certain calorie and sodium content.  Or, maybe a less extreme path would be to remove BigMacs and large fries from the menu.  If fast food really is partially to blame for the obesity issue then McDonald’s could be equally as responsible for turning it around.  We could also reform the public school system to include healthier meal options and MANDATORY nutrition education for students and parents.  This will create the pressure needed to in essence force parents to continue the healthy lifestyle beyond the seven or eight hours a day when the students are in school.

3 Responses

  1. I completely agree, isn’t it the funniest thing that schools have totally transformed their menu’s to accommodate the healthy image that parents want to see but when kids do something good or on the way home from soccer practice where do parents seem to go, the fast and extremely unhealthy, McDonald’s for a kids value meal which has 650 calories in an average kids meal, not so healthy for a kid.

  2. There is an increasing tolerance for obesity in the US. While the ADA has many positive outcomes, one negative outcome is that it makes it OK for people to be obese because it makes them mobile even though they have extremely unhealthy lifestyles. People drive cars to McDonalds, eat Big Macs, go to Walmart and do their shopping in an automated shopping cart.

    The couch potato was never bigger. In Pakistan, I have always lost weight and stayed healthier when I spend time in my village, as opposed to my home in the city. The difference… there is no TV in our village home, the roads are either not wide enough, or too bumpy to drive around inside the village – so people walk everywhere.

    While that is not a practical lifestyle for city dwellers, it goes a long way in telling us where we are going wrong. It is the excessive desire to have everything at our finger tips.

  3. I did a study on this for one of my classes, it is definetly not solely the parents job to teach their children good eatting habits. This is a difficult thing for parents to do. There needs to be corporate responsibility. Children need to not be exposed to advertisements with their favorite mascots promoting unhealthy foods. This only begins the trend of bad eatting habits.

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