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Healthline Connects

Fast Food Under Fire

Fast food restaurants have been taking fire from all sides recently. KFC was recently sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for using trans fats to cook its chicken. After months of negotiation, KFC announced they would switch away from trans fat, prompting nutritionist Heidi Sklonick to predict that "It won't be long before other fast food chains make the change, too."

It didn't take long for that prediction to come true, when two weeks later Taco Bell announced that they would trade trans fats for canola oil.

Adding insult to injury is the recent launch of the movie "Fast Food Nation". The movie is an adaptation of the book by Eric Schlosser, about which the New York Times said:
"Not only will it make you think twice before eating your next hamburger … it will also make you think about the fallout that the fast food industry has had on the social and cultural landscape."
And fast food is most definitely part of the cultural landscape. According to Juliet Schor, an economist and professor of sociology at Boston College, the average child is exposed to 27 advertisements for food per day, the vast majority of them for nutritionally weak foods that are high in fats, oils, sugar and calories.

Some are saying that children are increasingly suffering from an epidemic of "marketing-related diseases" - notably obesity. McDonald's alone spent $528.8 million on advertising in 2004, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, with an estimated 40 per cent of that targeted to children.

In Australia, McDonald's is fighting back with its hefty wallet, recently launching an ad campaign called "Make Up Your Own Mind", featuring attractive, thin, healthy-looking young people showing you around a McDonald's kitchen and extolling the virtues of their ingredients. The "Menu" section of the site gives you all the info on items featured in McDonald's "Healthy Choice" menu, but no info on the high-fat culprits you'd expect.

Are these the signs of a fast food industry under siege? It's possible. And the world's health might be better for it.
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The Healthline Editorial team writes about the latest health news, policy, and research.

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