We hold these truths to be self-evident; that Americans are fat, and that our government is run by corporations. Not exactly what our forefathers had in mind.
Nonetheless, in 2013 we find ourselves in a time where 154.7 million Americans are overweight or obese. In a time fraught with concern over healthcare, the excess cost of healthcare due to overweight and obesity issues has reached $254 billion, and if the trend continues it will reach up to $957 billion by 2030.
Even with Michelle Obama rallying the youth to get off their bums and go lose some weight, the problem continues. I think I have discovered why.
As I was partaking in America’s pastime (eating half a pizza and watching football on the couch all day) I came to realize that America has forgotten what the word “snack” means.
With just what you have in your pocket— yes broke undergraduate, what you have in your pocket—you can afford a full day’s worth of calories marketed as a snack at a fast food store anywhere across this big and beautiful nation.
We seem to have forgotten that “snack” is not the meal between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, and dinner and breakfast. Snack is supposed to be a little something to subdue the gnawing pains of starvation until dinner. Now, you can go and get a bucket full of crispy chicken and fries at KFC and call it a “snack.”
This is what Arby’s has listed under it’s “Snack ‘n Save menu”: bacon cheddar melt, roast beef sandwich, ham and cheddar sandwich, milkshakes, chocolate molten lava cake, jalapeno bites, mozzarella sticks, turnovers, onion rings, and curly fries. Do any of those things sound like snacks to you?
KFC’s “Go Cups,” marketed as a snack, include chicken strips and fries and range from 420 and 600 calories, which is what you would expect from a full dinner. Other “snack” options at KFC range from 270 to 420 calories with 28 to 39 grams of carbohydrates.
Shockingly, snacks from McDonald’s include the healthiest options such as fruit and yogurt parfaits (150 calories), a side salad (20 calories w/out dressing), and apple slices. However, they also include fries, chicken wings, and any of their vast “Snack Wrap” options and these range between 250 and 450 calories.
With snacks the size of full meals, it’s no wonder we’re all getting so fat. But if these snacks are ruining our health, along with increasing our health care burden, why are they so pervasive? Between fast food CEOs and health insurance CEOs, a lot of people are making a lot of money off of our bad habits.
As we all know, companies have a major say in the direction of our government. It is my inclination to say that the money these CEOs are making has at least something to do with why no one has put a stop to these foods being marketed as snacks. However, shocking as it may be, we are not powerless to the forces of advertising.
While it may be tempting to grab a bucket full of chicken or a roast beef sandwich and say, “It’s just a snack,” it isn’t healthy. We may be a country very susceptible to the almighty advertisement, but in matters of health, we need to learn self-control.
My question to you is, do you want to make a bunch of very rich people very angry and improve your quality of life at the same time? Drop the fried food. If you need a snack, even a small candy bar is better than fries or a molten chocolate lava cake—or even better, have a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Anything you’d like, but for the love of all that is good in this world, please let’s stop this super-sized snack trend before having a quick bite consists of a four-course meal and none of us can see our feet past our guts.