Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fast food fiasco

The decision to ban new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles is insulting and unfair to both residents and restaurants.

July 31, 2008


The Los Angeles City Council wanted to look like it was doing something about the growing problem of obesity among South LA residents.

So it made the area's fast-food restaurants the scapegoat.

On Tuesday, the LA City Council placed a yearlong moratorium on new fast food restaurants in high poverty South LA. The action was presented as a way to open the door for restaurants that offer healthier menu options.

It does seem that obesity is a problem in this area. According to the Los Angeles County health department, 30 percent of South LA residents are obese compared to 19.1 percent for the whole metropolitan area. But banning additional fast food restaurants is a losing strategy and an unfair attack on businesses that already are attempting to offer more healthy menu choices.

It's not the restaurants' fault that patrons choose to order a double cheeseburger instead of a salad, or a milk shake instead of a diet soda. Even if additional restaurants move into the area, customers may well make the same choices based on such factors as price and convenience, as well as taste.

The City Council's action might be marginally justified if there was any reasonable expectation that it would solve the problem it seeks to address, but there isn't. If the city really wanted to reduce obesity, maybe it could subsidize a low-cost salad bar restaurant or build new recreation centers to encourage people to exercise more. But those things would cost money, so it's easier to just point the finger at a broad class of "fast food" restaurants and be done with it.

Are there supermarkets in this area? Following the council's reasoning on restaurants, they should ban all new supermarkets that sell high fat food. Only health food stores need apply. They could even take it another step and attack other health issues. No more convenience stores that sell cigarettes.

Obesity apparently is a problem in South LA, but it's a little insulting for the city to imply that it should decide what the residents of the area should eat because they aren't smart enough to decide for themselves. If the City Council really wants to address the obesity issue, it would be better off trying to attack the poverty that leaves residents of the area with limited options in food and in life.


costello 9 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, we're a bunch of hicks.It doesn't sound like you like these "ghetto" folk much, marc. Maybe the government should mandate birth control being added to the fast food? We'd thin the ranks of those who lack proper knowledge of silverware.At least the emotionally-retarded, small-town, red-neck hicks here give those ghetto people enough credit to assume they can make their own choices without government interference.

BigDog 9 years, 10 months ago

Many of these people have jobs or had jobs (retirees) ..... and many of these people are those who work at restaurants, Kmart, Walmart, or other areas of the service industry, making the $7-$8 an hour

Satirical 9 years, 10 months ago

Moo:"Is that really a personal choice?"Are you suggesting a choice due to ignorance isn't really a choice? If so what other choices are people too ignorant about that the government should protect them from? The level of illegitimacy is rampant in the poor African American community which has seroius and long term effects. Should we require poor African Americans to get married in order to "help them"? Do we assume poor people are ignorant, and is this constitutional discrimination? Do you know exactly what all the restaurants and grocery stores sell to determine they are being denied the option of healthy eating? If that were the case and there was demand for healthy food, perhaps you should open your own health food store there and make a fortune. This would give them a choice you claim they don't have, not require a ban on fast food restaurants and make you a millionaire. Everyone wins!

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

"The solution to this is simple: Get * a * job"If you think that solution is universally simple, you are incredibly naive.

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 10 months ago

"The solution to this is simple: Get * a * job"If you think that solution is universally simple, you are incredibly naive.=========It's not a universal solution, but it would be a very good start. People need to get off their duffs and get off the dole. Anyone who sits around expecting the government to take care of them is a buffoon. There comes a time when a person should pull himself up by the bootstraps and do things for himself.

costello 9 years, 10 months ago

The government needs to stay out of the job of running people's lives. It's clueless. We can't agree on what constitutes a "healthy" diet or lifestyle. Believe it or not, there really is controversy about what is an appropriate diet for weight loss.I was a vegan for four years. No animal products. Lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes. The whole "healthy" diet. My weight blossomed from 165 to 215 during those years. My blood pressure rose. I became prediabetic. I was diagnosed with fatty liver. By the end of 2007 I was over 250 pounds and still gaining rapidly (25 pounds in 2007 alone).I started a low-carb diet at the beginning of 2008. I've lost over 40 pounds since Jan. 8, and I'm currently losing at an average of 2 pounds per week. I'm no longer prediabetic and my liver function is normal. My blood pressure is coming down. I sleep better (a lifetime of insomnia cured) and my moods are more even. I have more energy. I feel better. I'm not excessively hungry as I was on low-fat, low-cal diets, and I have more energy. Even my blood lipids - which were never bad - have improved. My triglycerides are down, and my HDL is up.What do I eat? Eggs, meat, fish, and lots of veggies. And I'm a regular at McDonalds. I just ask them to leave the bun off the burger at lunch and order the "round eggs" and sausage during breakfast. And, yes, I sometimes have that double cheeseburger from the dollar menu that another poster would have me pay $12 for!Metabolically, the "healthy" diet isn't right for me. If the all-knowing, all-seeing government were able to force me back to my former "healthy" diet, I'd immediately begin gaining weight and my health would deteriorate. I'd be fat and diabetic within a couple years.

zzeroo 9 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps the government can start taxing obese people as they enter the 'Fast Food" joints, so instead of a $0.99 Double Cheeseburger, it would be more like a $12.00 Double Cheeseburger. The taxed money can then be used to promote healthier living. Characteristics of obesity consists of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol; it probably is more dangerous if an obese individual had a Big Mac in their hand as they are driving down the road (heart failure), than someone smoking a marijuanna joint!

Satirical 9 years, 10 months ago

Don't you guys understand, it is the government's job to protect people from themselves whether they like it or not. Remember personal responsibility is not an issue because these people are really just victims of their own ignorance or evil corporations. Government's only purpose is to "raise up" people who have "fallen". So, in order to save future costs, and "protect" the residents, the government must take necessary steps to prevent these bad choices. It isn't that individuals in government have the power, and think they are smarter than everyone else; it is really all about compassion. I am sure Lawrence will be the next compassionate city to save its residents from their horrible ignorance. Save us Lawrence!!!

Confrontation 9 years, 10 months ago

Sure, obesity is a problem. However, thinner people are also having heart attacks. Don't assume that all health issues can be guessed by looking at someone's body.

Trobs 9 years, 10 months ago

When they start taxing the food that is horrible for me yet I love to eat, I'm leaving the country. No Demolition Man for me.

Orwell 9 years, 10 months ago

Autie:Bring me back a Double Q-Pounder with cheese, a MegaFry and a gallon of Coke. I'll pay you Tuesday.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 10 months ago

This is why the far left can never ever seize power in the country. It would be the nannystate on steroids.

divingdiva 9 years, 10 months ago

I like zzeroo's idea! Tax the crud out of crappy food and then use that money to promote healthier living. Good idea! And for those who think that being obese is a personal decision that affects no one else is sorely mistaken. People who are obese by choice, smoke by choice and get lung cancer, eat like crap by choice leading to all kinds of diseases, DOES affect the rest of us because our insurance rates go through the roof.I think people who live a healthy lifestyle (don't smoke, aren't obese, etc.) should get a heavy discount on their insurance rates. I get tired of paying out the whazoo for insurance when I'm doing everything right. I'm not saying punish those who come down with cancer that is out of their control, but for those who don't smoke, are vegetarian, etc., they should get a heavy discount on insurance rates -- if nothing else for simply trying to live healthy instead of gulping down fast food every day and smoking 2 packs of cigarettes.

Trobs 9 years, 10 months ago

In Soviet Russia fast food eats you!

gr 9 years, 10 months ago

The govamint' will take care of ya.At least that's what they want you to believe. Obesity is a personal choice. Banning certain restaurants won't have any effect. Like the article said, you'd have to ban a lot of things. And maybe the new regime will do that.

meggers 9 years, 10 months ago

madmike,There is a Socialist party in the United States and Obama does not belong to it, no matter how often and loudly people such as yourself run aroung screaming that the sky is falling. When you mention wealth distribution, are you including taking money from the backs of the working class and lining the pockets of CEO's at corporations like Enron, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Bear Stearns? Or are you referring to the billions our government pays private (no-bid) contracters in Iraq to perform shoddy work, resulting in the compromised safety of our troops and substantial sums of money left unaccounted for?Perhaps you should actually do a little bit of your own research before spewing the hate-mongering, factually incorrect talking points of people who would sell this country to the devil himself just to continue the warped privilege of lording influence over the most ignorant and uninformed members of our electorate. And I think the fast food ban is silly, BTW.

marcdeveraux 9 years, 10 months ago

Have any of you who are against this idea ever been in these hoods? These are poverty ridden ghettos , filled with the poor. Little education, no money , these are the mean streets you small town rednecks have never seen. Nothing but fast food and booze.Comfort food . Many of these children have grown up on fast food to the extent they do not know what a knife and fork are for. The critics of this plan are know nothings Names like mad mike,.topjawhawk say alot about small town hicks who are emotionally retarded.

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 10 months ago

"Sure, obesity is a problem. However, thinner people are also having heart attacks."The difference however is that fat people have heart attacks in their 30s, thin people have heart attacks in their 70s.

beatrice 9 years, 10 months ago

madmike: "You think that's bad, wait until Lord Obama becomes the new Fuhrer of the United States. Socialism, the government telling you how to live every aspect of your life, "wealth re-distribution"= stealing from those that earned it and a huge increase of our taxes:Welcome to the "worker's paridise"!"Oh my f** god! Could you be more dramatic?! Why not throw in there that Obama will seize all guns, will force us to learn French, will introduce mandatory gay marriage and that all who don't agree will be forced to go to detainment centers for re-indoctrination? It is as if you are attempting to limbo on this post: How low can you go? You might as well just run out into the streets screaming, "Soylent Green is people!!!!! Its people!!!!" It is as ficticious as the garbage you are spewing.

Satirical 9 years, 10 months ago

Orwell...Great analysis. Of course government has the authority to do this. The real question is should they in this instance. The obvious answer is "No".You are also probably right about the city government's real motivation.

BigDog 9 years, 10 months ago

I like how they really only want to ban them in poorer areas or town ..... like upper middle class and the rich aren't fat. Kind of like the Hollywood types that fly around on their private planes telling us about global warming.If they are serious about helping these people they need to look at some of the causes. We need to look at why people buy the bad food sometimes also ..... poorer people many times buy at the grocery store and fast food what they can afford (much like college students). Look at the items that are cheapest which are often items the government subsidizes. That double cheeseburger is $.99; a package of cheap hotdogs are like $.89 but salads cost 3-4 times more, vegetables at the grocery store are also quite expensive for the poor.And which items do you think the government subsidizes most? ...... it sure isn't vegetables and fruits. Kind of hypocritical for them to want people to eat healthier yet continue to heavily subsidize the crappy food (healthwise).

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 10 months ago

"Diet soda is considered healthy?"No, but it is certainly easier on the arteries than a milkshake.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 9 years, 10 months ago

"And which items do you think the government subsidizes most? :: it sure isn't vegetables and fruits. Kind of hypocritical for them to want people to eat healthier yet continue to heavily subsidize the crappy food (healthwise)."The solution to this is simple: Get * a * job

moo 9 years, 10 months ago

This article and most of these comments really demonstrate the total lack of understanding of modern epidemiology in this country. Read some literature on the obesity epidemic (tons and tons online).As far as this specific plan, this kind of thinking won't solve the problem, but at least it's a start. Most of the country is doing nothing about what is essentially a public health issue. Socioeconomic status has a huge association with obesity. Essentially rich people aren't obese, and a huge proportion of poor people are. Oh ya, and most of these areas don't have supermarkets, or not the kind that have fresh produce. Is that really a personal choice?Good point on the subsidies, bigdog, that's another really important angle to attack the problem from. Stop subsidizing high fructose corn syrup, for example.

trinity 9 years, 10 months ago

water AND bourbon? hmm! said water OR bourbon. :( guess i'll have to buck up&take it straight! :)

LJD230 9 years, 10 months ago

And this is important to Lawrence,Kansas because........?

costello 9 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for the offer, autie, but I'm eating my McDonald's Big & Tasty right now - without the bun, of course. ;-)

Orwell 9 years, 10 months ago

Benny:As Bob Dylan once said,"Now, i'm lib'ral, but to a degreeI want ev'rybody to be free:"I have trouble buying the idea that the LA City Council is so all-fired wise as to know when and how to NARROW the range of choices, and then only in selected disadvantaged neighborhoods where they deem the residents unable to make choices for themselves. It's this sort of action that causes many people to oppose governmental authority to do much of anything, even if it IS a good idea.Cholesterol for the goose is cholesterol for the gander. If this is a legitimate governmental function (health and welfare), it looks unreasonably discriminatory not to protect residents of other parts of town.The more likely outcome in South LA is a quasi-monopolistic advantage for the existing junk food shops, with resulting upward pressure on prices paid by the already disadvantaged customers. Absent a focus on education, this new restriction won't produce much benefit.Forest for the trees, as it were.

gr 9 years, 10 months ago

moo: "Essentially rich people aren't obese, and a huge proportion of poor people are."I think the huge proportion of third world poor people would disagree with that statement."I was a vegan for four years.""Metabolically, the "healthy" diet isn't right for me."Interesting. Costello, in the interest of helping others out here, would mind giving an example of what you were eating? Like details for a typical day including all between meal items.

costello 9 years, 10 months ago

"Interesting. Costello, in the interest of helping others out here, would mind giving an example of what you were eating? Like details for a typical day including all between meal items."Currently I don't eat at all between meals. I have three meals a day, no snacking. I have protein at each meal - trying to shoot for at least 20 grams, but failing at breakfast.For breakfast I have 2 eggs cooked in (real) butter or coconut oil, decaf coffee with (real) cream and sometimes a packet of Splenda.For lunch, I might go to McDonalds for a burger without the bun, or I'll have tuna with mayo and relish or some baked chicken. Also some salad greens.Dinner might be a small broiled steak with veggies - maybe broccoli, asparagus, or brussel sprouts.For drinks: water, decaf coffee, and diet decaf Coke or Pepsi.I limit cheese, nuts, fruits, legumes, and grains. I eat no sweets. Once I get down to the weight I want to be at, I'll increase some of those (if it doesn't make me gain), but sweets will probably never be a part of my diet.

gr 9 years, 10 months ago

"I was a vegan for four years.""For breakfast I have 2 eggs"I meant when you were a vegan eating "healthy".Maybe what you are saying that by eating as unhealthy as you are, you are losing weight? At least you are eating some other things besides just protein so maybe your liver isn't under threat.Not eating between meals, and not eating sweets is probably of most benefit.

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