advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Healthier Fast Food?

I've heard that fast-food restaurants are offering "healthy" options such as salads and smoothies or listing milk, juice or water instead of soft drinks with children's meals. This all seems too good to be true. Will the restaurants really do this?

A
Answer (Published 12/6/2013)

I'm skeptical, too. The fast food industry is certainly under a lot of pressure to clean up its act. Leading this effort is First Lady Michele Obama, who has focused public attention on the shortcomings of fast food as we know it today – too many calories, too much bad fat and too many sweetened beverages, including soft drinks made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness for Your Healthy Body - It's the journey not the destination. Make each day count, with an outlook that is both serene and inspired. Dr. Weil's new website, SpontaneousHappiness.com, has everything you need to get on the path to optimal well-being including recipes, checklists and exclusive tools to track your walking. Learn more, start your 10-day free trial now.

On her excellent and informative blog "Food Politics," my friend Marion Nestle, M.P.H., Ph.D., author and professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, has had a lot to say about this issue, most recently about a White House conference on food marketing to children held on September 18, 2013. The meeting brought together representatives of the food industry, trade associations, media, government agencies, private organizations, and universities. Dr. Nestle, who attended, reported that representatives of food companies repeatedly claimed that those calling for changes in their marketing of fast food to children "are not giving them nearly enough credit for how hard it is for them to accomplish this. They have shareholders to please. They need positive reinforcement."

Apparently, fast food executives have learned to talk the talk but not walk the walk. Dr. Nestle reviewed the McDonald's Corporation's latest promises to go healthy, a deal brokered with the Clinton Foundation's Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The food chain took out big newspaper ads promising, among other things, to remove soda from kids' "Happy Meals" and offer only milk, water and juice. If you think that is too good to be true, you're right.

Dr. Nestle reports that a look at the fine print of McDonald's promises shows that while the chain would list water, milk or juice among the beverage selections with its kids' meals, it reserved the right to "list soft drinks… on… Happy Meal…menu boards." What's more, the company announced in a press release that, "All pieces of this commitment will be implemented in 30-50 percent of the 20 major markets within three years and 100 percent of the 20 markets by 2020." As Dr. Nestle wrote when describing this series of events, "Don't hold your breath for any of (McDonald's) promises to happen soon."

She also wrote that the First Lady's speech was well worth the trip to attend the White House conference. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

"… ideally, in a decade or so, we would see a dramatic shift across the entire industry. We'd see companies shifting marketing dollars away from those less healthy products and investing those dollars in your healthier products instead….There might be those out there whose strategy is to just wait this out-folks who might still be thinking to themselves, well, in a few years, this lady will be gone - (laughter) -  and this whole "Let's Move!" thing will finally be over, so we can go back to business as usual. And I know that none of you here are thinking that way. (Laughter from audience.)  But if you know anyone who is - (more laughter) - you might want to remind them that I didn't create this issue, and it's not going to go away three and a half years from now when I'm no longer First Lady."

In conclusion, Dr. Nestle wrote: "Cheers for Let's Move! for taking this (issue) on."

I'll second that, but I believe it will take ongoing public pressure on the fast food industry to make a difference in what it is marketing to kids and to the rest of us. The most powerful leverage consumers have is to spend their money on healthier food elsewhere.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here