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Battle of the Bulge in NYC

Copyright (c) 2007 The Brain Code LLCFast food chains are fighting a recent New York ruling that says restaurants must put calorie information on their menus. The city has given restaurants until Octo...

Copyright (c) 2007 The Brain Code LLC

Fast food chains are fighting a recent New York ruling that says restaurants must put calorie information on their menus. The city has given restaurants until October of this year before they will start handing out fines but it looks like the battle lines are being drawn.

What have you got to hide?

A spokesperson for the fast food industry says the rules, which require calorie content displayed in type at least as large as the price, will create the need for huge menu boards and confuse the customers. I wonder if they are maybe concerned about something else like revealing that a typical burger meal adds up to about 1200 calories in a single sitting.

The industry says that they have made calorie and nutrition information available for a long time, which is true. But putting it 10-clicks deep on your website versus in the face of the customer getting ready to place an indulgent order are two different things.

The American Medical Association is backing up the movement in New York. They are asking all fast food restaurants to add nutrition information to their menus everywhere, not just in the Big Apple (which may find more people eating apples after this law takes hold).

The bottom line is that most people have no idea how many calories they are taking in at their favorite fast food stop. Many single fast food meals contain about enough calories for a whole day but without most of the required nutrition.

The health toll

New estimates from the US government predict that by 2050, when today's elementary school kids are in their mid 40s, we will have 48 million diabetics. Too many trips to the drive through are likely a big factor. Over the past 15 years, we have seen the number of new diabetic cases double per capita.

Diabetes carries with it increased risk of heart disease, blindness, deafness, loss of limbs and all kinds of other stuff you don't want yourself or your kids to deal with. But current trends suggest that 1 out of 3 of today's kids will face these problems. In the small town where I live, we have about 1500 kids in the school district. That's 500 future diabetics just from here, assuming we are an average American town.

The economic toll

Today we spend about $1 out of every $8 health care dollars on the treatment of diabetes or related conditions. The British Health System already predicts their own bankruptcy and collapse due to the increases in diabetes. What are we doing to ourselves? Why are we deliberately shooting ourselves in the foot?

Maybe in the next presidential debate we should encourage candidates to spend less time talking about how to pay for health care and more time talking about how to make it less necessary.

I applaud the movement in New York. I hope that eventually the mega fast food companies will come around to provide us with healthier food that can sustain us well into our old age instead of driving us into and early grave. Vote with your dollars and eventually you will get what you want.

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