Why We Have a Weight Problem – Part 2

Here is the continuation from Part 1 exploring two other culprits that have increased the collective weight in America:

Along Came the “Drive Through”

The first drive through restaurant (not to be confused with drive in) was established by In-N-Out Burger in 1948. It was an addition to their first location in Los Angeles, California. By 1976 there were only 18 In-N-Out Burger Locations, and they were all located in California.

This was hardly enough to make a huge impact on the American middle. Then McDonald’s open their first drive through on January 24, 1975 in Sierra Vista, Arizona. This started a cascading effect of drive through proliferation that continues to this day. Now there are thousands of through restaurants serving everything from hamburgers to coffee to tofu. There is almost, literally, one on every corner. There billboards provide decoration along the Interstates, beckoning and temping us with the lure of fast food delight, “10 miles ahead off exit 28.”

The Drive Through has undoubtedly made it much easier for us to indulge our appetite for “junk food.” Many fast food chains offer healthier alternatives. However, the majority of fast food orders are less than stellar when it comes to eating healthy.

Supersize Me

Research from the American Journal of Public Health reveals the increasing availability of larger food portions. Fast Food restaurants use bigger portions as a marketing ploy; other restaurants promote larger servings with banners, t.v. advertisements, and coupons; manufacturers of diet foods and pre-packaged frozen dinners advertise larger sizes; convenience stores promote huge drink sizes with window displays; and non fast food chains tout increased portions on the menus.

Restaurants use bigger plates, baked goods are coming out in the form of larger muffins and cup-cakes; pizzas are larger with thicker crust, and fast food containers are ever expanding. Recipes for desserts in new editions of classic cookbooks have been edited to show the end result with fewer servings, meaning that individual servings are to be bigger. Vehicles are being manufactured with larger cup holders.

Overall, research shows portion sizes of most foods and beverages prepared for immediate consumption have increased. Studied were over 175 products for which market availability dates were available. The research suggest that movement toward larger portion sizes began in the mid 1970s; portion sizes then increased sharply through the late 1990’s and continue to grow.

In conclusion, there are more processed, sugar laden foods in the marketplace. Junk food is more prevalent and convenient, and our serving sizes have continued to expand and we eat out more. All the while we don’t get enough activity to get rid of these empty calories.