Does Fast Food Equal Fast Weight Gain?
Yesterday I spoke about nutritional labeling on menus at sit-down restaurants. Studies show they can help customers eat fewer calories. But what about fast-food restaurants? Other studies have looked at mandatory labeling in fast-food outlets, and have concluded that this information has little, if any, impact on people’s eating habits. Federal law now requires chain fast-food restaurants to post nutritional information about the products they sell for all to see. But for some reason, it doesn’t appear to influence behavior the way it does among sit-down restaurant patrons.
One difference may have to do with how the information is supplied. In full-service restaurants, nutritional information is provided alongside individual items, on printed menus. In fast-food joints, the information is usually located in one place, and may be less noticeable. Only about one-third of fast-food customers were aware of such information. Discouragingly, many fast-food customers reported eating fast food five or more times per week. And that didn’t change, even after nutritional labeling appeared. What’s worse, obesity affects low-income urban neighborhoods disproportionately, and these are communities where people tend to rely on fast-food for a majority of their meals.
As I’ve said before, fast food is almost always calorie-dense, but nutrient-poor. And that’s a prescription for weight gain and poor health. So the next time you’re tempted to swing through the drive-through, I’d suggest you just keep on driving. Visit the organic produce section at a nearby local market, instead. Or choose a sit-down restaurant with clearly labeled nutritional information, so you can make informed decisions about the food you’re putting in your body.
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine (2013, November 15). Mandatory calorie postings at fast-food chains do not influence food choice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/11/131115154458.htm