Fast Food: More Calories, But More Room For Change?

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A recent study by the American Cancer Society and University of Illinois found that a typical adult who dines out--at fast food and sit-down restaurants alike--consumes an extra 200 calories more than when cooking at home. We’re not surprised, given the insane amounts of fat, sodium, sugar, and calories in some restaurant meals. The study, which also analyzed demographics, highlighted the all-too-familiar reality that those who dine out actually have less access to good nutrition.  According to the ACA press release:

The researchers say the larger adverse effect they measured on energy intake for some lower socio-economic and minority populations has policy implications. They say efforts to improve diet and reduce energy intake from restaurant sources could actually help to reduce racial and socio-economic disparities in Americans’ diets."

Inexpensive food helps solve hunger pangs, but the externalized costs of those cheap meals are all-too-tragic. Is there another way? Could fast-food chains turn a corner and start offering cheap and healthy options? Last week, four columnists tackled that issue in the NY Times Opinion pages. Ranging from optimism to guarded cynicism, the four different points of views help tease out some of the big issues that we are currently faced within our food system today.

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