Chamber of Commerce Wrong on Fast Food & Obesity

Statement of CSPI Director of Nutrition Policy Margo Wootan

July 3, 2003

To say that fast food has nothing to do with obesity is pretty incredible, even for the credibility-challenged Chamber of Commerce. The reactionary report released today by the Chamber might as well have been released by the Flat Earth Society, for it totally ignores the role of fast food in diets, particularly children's diets.

One industry-funded report doesn't negate the fact that people are eating out twice as much as they used to, and that eating out accounts for one-third of our calories. When children eat at restaurants, they eat twice as many calories as when they eat at home.

While it is true that obesity is a complex problem, and that fast food isn't solely to blame, one would have to be a complete ostrich to believe that fast food marketers have no culpability in the obesity epidemic. Obesity rates have doubled in kids and tripled in teens, and the shameless way in which fast-food chains market super-sized burgers and fries to kids is at least partly to blame.

The key way to help people to eat better when they eat out is to require fast-food and other chain restaurants to provide calorie counts right on menus and menu boards. That way, people would know that a large McDonald's shake has 1,010 calories and that a Cinnabon has 670 calories.


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