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We all know that traditional fast food is not good for us.  It’s loaded with fat, sodium, preservatives and all sorts of processed carbs.  It’s also adding to the growing issue of obesity in this country.  But just how much?  That’s what researchers in the US and Ireland have been asking, and they’ve gotten some answers.  They’ve found that for every fast food transaction in a country, the average BMI goes up by 0.03.  In case you’re wondering if you read that correctly, we did, in fact, say EVERY fast food transaction.  That’s just scary.

Now, for those of you not in the know about BMIs, here’s the scoop.  BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a globally accepted measurement of obesity; it’s a calculated ratio of height to weight.  (If you’d like to know your BMI, give this BMI calculator from the CDC a try)

Dr. Roberto De Vogli at the University of California, Davis, headed up the study, and here’s how his team got their results: They collected data on the number of fast food transactions per capita from 25 high-income countries from 1999-2008 and compared them with the average BMI in the same countries over the same time period.  The study took into account some other factors as well, such as how much exercise people got, urbanization, age, etc.  According to Dr. Vogli, as countries become richer, people eat out more and fast food becomes part of that mix.  People also drive more and walk less; Dr. Vogli says that his study takes all of this into account.

The study found that the sharpest increases in fast food consumption and BMI occurred in Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.  The lowest increases were in Italy, Belgium, Greece, and the Netherlands.  Why, you ask?  According to Dr. Vogli, “The more aggressive market-liberalized countries have a higher consumption of fast food.”  The countries with the lowest increases have more stringent market regulation.  In case you were wondering: There wasn’t much change in the numbers for the US because we were already saturated with fast food when the study started.  Sadly, more than 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese.

Dr. Vogli recommends government intervention and regulation to help solve the problems associated with fast food and obesity, including protecting small farmers and encouraging people to eat local produce (yet another good reason to visit your local farmers market!!).  What do you think the solutions are?

We believe in getting our customers’ food to them fast—we’re all busy and the world moves quickly—but not at the expense of their health.  Brown Bag serves fresh, healthy meals that you can feel good about eating, and we do all of this with an eye on the planet.  We encourage you to try our brand of cuisine on-the-fly, visit your local farmers market, eat local and support local farmers (and local organic farmers!).  There are people in your area raising produce and livestock sustainably, and they’re not too hard to find.  Come see us for healthy breakfasts and lunches, then visit a local farm or market and take some healthy food home!  Give Meatless Monday a try and we think you might find that there are more delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes out there than you can shake a stick at.  We bet that, after a bit, you won’t even miss your meat on Mondays.

Maybe government intervention and regulations are the answer, who knows; but for now, the solution lies with you.  Make good food choices.  Brown Bag can help.:)