L.A. tries to tackle fast food plague

Talynn Soghomonians

There’s a fast food restaurant for about every single letter of the alphabet. Arby’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, El Pollo Loco, Fat Burger and so on. These high-calorie fast food chains are causing a whopper of a problem in the United States-obesity.

That’s right. This is the country where breakfasts are glazed, lunches come with oily French fries smothered in ketchup and dinners are washed down with sugary soda.

It’s no wonder that the obesity rate continues to increase each year. It’s about time for a drastic change in the eating habits of Americans, but Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry’s proposal is definitely not it.

If the ordinance Perry proposed were to pass, it’d ban new fast food restaurants from opening for two years in the Los Angeles area. The purpose of the proposal is for the city of Los Angeles to focus on specifically accessing the local obesity issue and eventually creating a long-term plan that would force current fast food eateries to change their unhealthy ways. In doing so, several studies suggest that the risk of diabetes and heart disease would decrease among residents of Los Angeles. Although the idea to make Los Angeles healthier is to be praised, there are several obvious flaws in the plan.

First, the proposal is only going to make a dent in a super-sized problem. There have already been several failed attempts to force these fast food restaurants to clean up their acts on a national level. McDonald’s in particular recently introduced healthier options to their menu including the Fruit ‘ Walnut Salad. However, placing these healthy and pint-sized choices next to products like the Big N’ Tasty combo on the menu isn’t going to encourage Americans to ignore their fix for their weekly and sometimes daily burger meals. It seems safe to assume that most McDonald’s customers are even unaware of the Fruit ‘ Walnut Salad’s existence. These healthier meals and snacks are simply not being advertised as much as their unhealthy fast food counterparts.

Second, it’s important to note that Americans are the same people who consider Diet Pepsi and opting for regular fries as opposed to animal style fries at In-N-Out as being health conscious. Simply refusing to open a couple of fast food restaurants won’t deter fast food junkies from stopping by their favorite burger joints.

There are just too many out there. There may soon be fast food restaurants at every corner and some that pride themselves in serving customers 24 hours a day. While the proposal will ban any new fast food restaurants from opening for two years, the restaurants that already exist are anything but lacking in customers. At about noon, most of these fast food chains have lines that continue outside the front door. Since it’s illegal to close a restaurant without health code violations, these fast food chains will be open and ready to serve regardless of the fate of the proposal.

Perry doesn’t realize that she isn’t just picking a fight with Americans who are obsessively attached to their burgers, fries and sodas, but a nation that’s known for its fast food names around the world.

Instead of sending council members to come up with a solution in two years for a problem that’s existed for decades, a more extreme proposal is needed or none at all. A more radical solution would be to increase the prices of fast food meals. Increasing the price of cigarette cartons did work somewhat for the tobacco epidemic. Yet, as of now, the obesity problem in the United States is far from being solved and consumers are far from parting with their fast food favorites.

Do you have more to say than a comment? Want any feedback from the writer? Story ideas? Head to The Gripevine.