According to a vice president with NPD Group (a company that keeps track of consumer eating habits), Americans have always had the means to eat healthier, they just lack the will.
Isn't That the Truth ...
More than 47 percent of the money Americans spend on food in 2005 -- an astounding $476 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association, will be wasted away at restaurants. And an NPD Group report exposed the proof in the bills:
Hamburgers were the most popular menu item ordered by men at restaurants last year; French fries came in second.
For women, French fries ranked first, followed by burgers.
Pizza ranked third for both genders.
Clearly, even in a society where people are aware of the need for healthy habits, most consumers still appear to have one major goal when they eat out: indulgence, or overindulgence that is.
And the fast-food joints can't complain either:
Burger King's breakfast sales jumped 20 percent thanks to its introduction of the Enormous Omelet Sandwich -- despite its 730 calories and 47 grams of fat.
The new triple-cheese Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza at Pizza Hut was such a success that it took in 20 percent of the chain's business within four days of its debut.
KFC is testing plans to bring back the Kentucky Fried Chicken name (a.k.a. fried foods), along with new menu items linked to its Southern roots.
Thus, the seemingly bottom line: When most Americans vote with their forks, the desire for tasty food continues to defeat concerns about health and nutrition.
USA Today May 13, 2005
You can't blame fast-food restaurants for seeking to meet consumer demand; how often do you go to a fast-food restaurant looking for something healthy to eat?
If you are like me, not very often.
Most of the time, when we go to fast-food restaurants we are seeking convenience and looking for something tasty, not healthy. While some of you may not know the serious dangers of fast foods, most of you have realized that most fast-food restaurants are not a healthy choice.
The problem has never been in our ability to distinguish healthy from unhealthy, but instead to choose healthy over unhealthy. The failure to do so is what makes people unhealthy, not what is or isn't available at McDonald's.
Fortunately, we can and have made a difference. Our interest in low-carb diets has changed the menus at nearly all fast-food restaurants to at least move in the direction of healthier options. Our continued demands will help them provide even healthier options in the future.
But be careful with the "healthy" food choices that are available at fast-food restaurants. While an apple or a cup of yogurt, no matter where they are from, are likely to be better for you than a double cheeseburger, that certainly doesn't mean they are of high quality or of particular benefit to you.
If you'd like to start eating healthier, but don't know where to start, I would encourage you to review Colleen Huber's excellent article for a number of practical and inexpensive tips on how to fit healthy eating into your life.