America will not give up its right to fries

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America runs on fast food.
Illustration: Kat English

Some families are centered around things like traditions or core values. As the daughter of a bariatric surgeon (a surgeon specialized in operating on obese patients), weight loss and obesity have been central in my household. I promise it’s not as weird as it sounds. All that really means is that I am a little more knowledgable about obesity, especially in the U.S.

Unfortunately, what I know is that America has a serious problem, but it won’t do anything about it. Until recently, America was the fattest nation in the world. Thankfully, someone else chewed the U.S. out of first place last year.

According to a United Nations report, Mexico beat out the United States in the race for the most overweight country; however, Mexico is actually moving toward decreasing its obesity percentage.

Oct. 31, President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto led a movement called the National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Overweight, Obesity and Diabetes, which includes a new law taxing high sugar and high-calorie foods and drinks.

“Sweet drinks will be taxed, and on the initiative of the delegates, backed by senators yesterday, non-basic foods with a high caloric density will also be taxed,” Nieto said. “The purpose of these taxes is to reduce the consumption of these products associated with the increase in overweight and obesity among Mexicans.”

In contrast, since finding out that America is one of the heaviest nations, the only moves toward improvement from the U.S. government seem to be Michelle Obama’s hopes and dreams of making school cafeterias better and the increase in Americans watching television shows about other people and their weight loss.

In New York, the mayor’s attempts to rid the city of drinks larger than 16 ounces was declared unconstitutional in July.

In 2011, Congress passed a bill that allowed a tomato paste, often used on pizza in school cafeterias, to count as a vegetable. Clearly feeding kids more “vegetables” is not working out. And let’s be serious, we’ve all eaten a bowl of ice cream while watching an episode of “The Biggest Loser.”

Lately, however, the Food and Drug Administration is trying to make America healthier, but at the cost of our french fries.

According to a consumer update by the FDA, the next step for the U.S. is to try to reduce the amount of trans fats in foods. Part of that process is to determine that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer “generally recognized as safe” due to the health risks that follow eating foods with trans fats.

This would mean that all trans fats would have to go through a screening process, but in order to make any moves, the FDA would have to get it approved by Congress. This and other moves to help regulate food will not get passed because Americans care too much about their fries, but mostly because the cost to the economy would be too great.

Just think about if McDonald’s had to change its fries to be less greasy and delicious. There would be mass protests in the street.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control posted a study on how much daily fast food an average American ate from 2007 to 2010. The findings of the study concluded what we know already: America loves the wrong food.

The CDC study showed that during that period, the average American adult consumed 11.3 percent of total daily calories from fast food. The study also stated that “more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and frequent fast-food consumption has been shown to contribute to weight gain.”

In addition, a 2011 market research study by IBISWorld reported that the fast-food industry contributes $165 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

Even though California seems to be pretty health-conscious, it does not leave the state out of being equally obsessed with unhealthy foods. Just because you put avocado on it doesn’t make it healthy. APU has made significant efforts to be a healthier campus in the past couple of years with the addition of gluten free products, among other methods, but most of us are still pretty attached to Chick-fil-A.

It’s unfortunate, but it seems unlikely that the second fattest country in the world will pass legislation to adequately affect our obesity rate.

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