Saturday, May 25, 2024

Crazy food trend motivates obesity

ready played a role in our everyday lives, but in 2017, we’re breaking barriers.

From McDonald’s latest monstrosity, the Grand Mac — a Big Mac, only bigger and with 61 percent more beef — to spaghetti doughnuts, which are exactly what they sound, the sky’s the limit.

Whether people see these recent food creations as tragedies or blessings, I view them as signs that our eating trends have gone horribly wrong.

Sushi burritos have exploded in the past year, and although I couldn’t be less interested in trying them, I haven’t heard a negative remark about them. Tacos and pizza were doing just fine until somebody decided they should be combined. Now, you can find taco pizza fairly easily. Even worse, you can find a burger topped with chicken and mac ‘n’ cheese wrapped in pizza. There are also 2-foot long pizza slices and burgers that stand nearly a foot high. Whether you’ve come across these beasts, they’re out there. Not only do they exist in certain restaurants, but they strive on social media and garner nearly endless shares and likes.

But who’s eating these servings on a regular basis, and could they be partly responsible for our country’s continued obesity problem?

More than 2 in 3 adults in the U.S. are considered to be overweight or obese, according to a 2010 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Big fast food chains are only part of the problem. Local restaurants deserve some blame as well.

Ninety-two percent of American restaurants serve oversized portions that exceed calorie recommendations for a single meal, according to a new study by the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that sampled meals served at 123 restaurants in Boston, San Francisco and Little Rock, Arkansas.

The serving of oversized portions isn’t harmless. It provides consumers with more food than they require, and because it’s on the plate in front of them, they may as well eat as much of it as they can.

Co-author of the aforementioned study William Masters explains, “Standard meals are sized for the hungriest customers, so most people need superhuman self-control to avoid overeating.”

I’m certainly not the hungriest customer any restaurant has seen. For every 10 times my entree is too much for me to finish, there’s one time that it’s the perfect size. There’s nothing wrong with leftovers, even though I personally am not a fan. But, wouldn’t it be more convenient to have the option to pay less for a lower quantity of the same meal?

That’s the solution Masters proposes. He said lawmakers should enact local ordinances mandating that customers be allowed to order partial portions at partial prices.

“Customers could then order anything on the menu in a more appropriate size and be able to eat out more often without weight gain,” he said.

America’s obesity issue has continued to grow over the years, along with our appetite for larger and more outlandish food options. Food-eating contests have grown so popular that there’s an organization that sanctions them called Major League Eating. Although these competitions are mostly good fun, contestants are putting their lives at risk when they participate. On March 31, Sacred Heart University student Caitlin Nelson died after choking during a pancake-eating contest, according to the CTPost. On April 2, a man choked to death during an eating-contest at a Voodoo Doughnuts in Denver, Colorado. The challenged required that he eat a half-pound, seven-inch diameter fried yeasted doughnut in 80 seconds.

“Super Size Me,” a documentary that put a spotlight on America’s obesity epidemic, was released 13 years ago. Though the movie focused on the fast food industry and the effects of its food on our bodies, it made viewers reconsider their eating habits. The film was monumental in its time, but its message is clearly lost on us.

We consumers have to decide whether these crazy food trends are harmless fun or generally problematic. We need to either take steps toward reducing oversized portions or continue being the catalysts for these Frankensteins and driving force behind our continued obesity.

Email Steve Levy at

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