Education is largely the answer to our country’s obesity problem-- educate the population and people will make the right choices. Of course, it’s essential that this education begin early so that a cultural food paradigm shift can happen. What about government restriction initiatives that create an atmosphere of deprivation to reduce obesity? I usually frown on those.
But when I read about the Los Angeles City Council limiting the amount of fast food restaurants that can open in South LA (an area with a high density of fast food outlets), I found myself thinking it might not be a bad idea. This action is not creating a situation of deprivation (which like diets, can lead to overeating), but merely absence. It seems the key here though is replacing these fast food joints with restaurants and stores that offer healthy options.
It’s working in inner city Chicago. In August, Walgreens revamped 10 of its stores in Chicago food deserts to offer more than 750 healthy food options. OK, these may not be organic or local, but fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy are certainly a far cry from a burger and fries. The store employees are reporting that customers who used to buy processed foods are now filling baskets with fresh items. Walgreens is also launching an education program to area residents teaching them how food can affect one’s health.
Back in LA, it looks like there will be less fast food joints in these low income areas but without healthy options in their place, won’t locals just travel a bit further to the next Jack in the Box? What if they had learned from an early age that a fast food diet would kill them?
Perhaps the answer to the obesity dilemma is education and smart government intervention.