This article in the Wall Street Journal is a must read. You can also watch the embedded video instead, but I don't think you'll burn as many calories - reading is goood for you.
Exiling the Happy Meal
Los Angeles Lawmakers Want to Escalate
The War on Obesity (And Fast Food)
By SARAH MCBRIDE
July 22, 2008; Page A14
Despite its health-crazy reputation, parts of Los Angeles are plagued by obesity rates that rival any city in America. Now, the city may join a growing roster of local governments aiming to put their residents on diets by cracking down on the fast-food industry.
Jan Perry, a Los Angeles city-council member, is spearheading legislation that would ban new fast-food restaurants like McDonald's and KFC from opening in a 32-square-mile chunk of the city, including her district. The targeted area is already home to some 400 fast-food restaurants, she says, possibly contributing to high obesity rates there -- 30% of adults, compared with about 21% in the rest of the city. Nationally, 25.6% of adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While some cities have bans on new fast-food establishments, they typically are for aesthetic reasons or to protect local businesses. Ms. Perry's initiative seems to be a rare instance in which a major city brings health issues into restaurant zoning. The fast-food ban would last a year, although Ms. Perry hopes to make it permanent. On Tuesday, a committee will make a recommendation on the measure before sending it on to the full city council for a vote.
With the ordinance, Los Angeles is tapping into a tougher attitude toward fast food that is emerging at city halls around the country. Cities have begun banning ingredients, regulating menu information and now dictating whether restaurants are healthy enough to open in their communities. Advocates say the measures are crucial in the fight against obesity, diabetes and other diseases and health conditions. Foes say the rules go too far, violating important freedoms.
In an effort to fight obesity, Los Angeles is proposing to ban fast food restaurants in one neighborhood, tapping into a tougher attitude toward fast food.
"It's very much the example of a nanny state," says Alan Hoffenblum, a Republican lobbyist in Los Angeles.
No, it's an example of an authoritarian state.
Many area residents say they support the ban -- even those who patronize the restaurants regularly. "It's a good idea," particularly for children, says Rafael Escobar, 69 years old, as he bites into a McDonald's sausage breakfast burrito. He thinks the move might encourage other types of food businesses to come into the neighborhood.
McDonald's sausage breakfast burrito - 300, with 144 coming from fat.
"There's not that many alternatives," says Hector Rodriguez, a bus driver toting a bag from the Del Taco chain of Mexican fast-food restaurants. He says he frequently stops along the strip of fast-food restaurants lining Figueroa Boulevard to pick up a snack or lunch. "If there were other choices, like a salad place or a supermarket, it would be better," he says.
Right, Mr. Rodriguez. If there was a salad place, I'm sure we'd find you in there. This is a prime example of someone giving the answer that they think the teacher wants to hear.
Councilman Ed Reyes, part of whose district would be affected by the ban, says he expects many complaints from fast-food owners about their right to do business in the neighborhood. He is prepared with counterarguments. "Health and social issues are the overriding issues, in my mind," he says. "It's not too different to how we regulate liquor stores."
Ms. Perry, the council member leading the legislation, says she sees the measure as just one part of a multipronged effort to fight obesity, including building parks to encourage exercise, encouraging more grocery stores to come into the neighborhood, boosting nutrition education and improving health care. Reining in fast food "is just one factor, but as an elected official, it's my prerogative" to work on all fronts, she says.
As the proponents of this ban point out, this is just the beginning. As soon as The One is inaugurated and provides us with universal health care.
You see... when you let someone else pick up the tab for your health care, they become extremely interested in how healthy you are. And since you personally do not have any incentive to stay healthy (other than the long-term benefits), the only way the person picking up the tab can keep you healthy is to control the way you live your life.
Universal health care and the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions are a two pronged attack to control your lifestyle and eliminate your freedom to choose.
ARC: St Wendeler