The cost of obesity, including increased incidence of heart disease and diabetes, and the added costs of accommodating the obese is staggering, yet little seems to be done to curb our insatiable appetite. Many restaurants in the U.S. now advertise the total calories for each meal, which is a good start, but when are we going to start tackling the real problem—our unhealthy relationship with food?
Maybe it’s not surprising that a man dining at the Heart Attack Grill, in Las Vegas had a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass Burger—1.5 pounds of beef and a dozen slices of bacon. Meals at this restaurant average 10,000 calories. And patrons who weigh more than 350 pounds eat for free. Jack in the Box has a bacon milkshake that is nearly 1100 calories. There is a television program called Man vs. Food, where the host is celebrated for finding eateries offering the largest, most obscene amounts of foods. When did eating become a sport?
And don’t think it’s a problem exclusive to the U.S. While obesity rates aren’t as huge in Canada, as they are in the States, it’s still a growing concern on this side of the border. You might have noticed that five hundred ml bottles of sodas are quickly replacing the once standard 300 ml cans in many vending machines and food outlets. And while the soda company makes more money, we end up paying more—for the extra pop that we don’t really need, and for the impact it has on our bodies. And I was at a local restaurant recently, where everyone was walking out with boxes of leftovers. A sure sign that too much food is produced—and consumed. It’s something that we need not celebrate in the name of value.
Counting calories is not the way to curbing our obesity epidemic. Eating less (and exercising more) is the only thing that will help, and restaurants can do a big service by offering smaller portions. And we can stop being fixated on bigger is better, and embrace a healthier relationship with food.