Obesity Epidemic Hits a Plateau...Oh, and Burger King Now Delivers
By Laura Hogg
From the FitChatter Blog Series
Welcome back to FitChatter! In today's news - two stories are at the top of the headlines: America's obesity epidemic appears to have hit a plateau, and Burger King is now expanding into home delivery. You could cut the irony with a disposable plastic knife.
When browsing the web for a story to feature this week, two caught my eye. They were pretty much right next to each other on NPR's website, apparently without a trace of (intentional) irony.
Let's start with the (sort of) good news first.
"A new kind of normal"?
New federal data suggests that the obesity epidemic seems to have hit a plateau. Rates of obesity have held steady at 33% of adults and 17% of children. "These data basically show than we haven't seen any change probably since back to 2003-4 in obesity in any group," said Cynthia Ogden of the National Center for Health Statistics.
Good news, right? Well...maybe. The researchers didn't look into possible reasons why the rates have stayed constant, so it's up to speculation. Some optimistic experts believe that the attention the problem has been getting (ahem, Georgia) has actually made somewhat of a difference. Others, however, believe that pretty much all people who are predisposed to obesity have already become obese. And as David Ludwig, a Harvard specialist in treating overweight kids, points out: "We may have peaked, but we've peaked at levels that have never before occurred for humans,"
Whatever the cause, I think we can take this as a small victory - as long as we don't let it get to our heads. And as long as we don't start getting Burger King home delivery.
Have it your way - at home
Yes, you read that right. Burger King is trying to break into the home delivery market in the U.S. They're currently only testing it out in the D.C. area, but plans are in the works to expand to 16 other stores outside D.C. They're using special new thermal packaging in an effort to preserve texture and flavor while keep hot things hot and cold things cold.
So how did it fare? In NPR's test, this fast food was, well, kind of slow - it took 32 minutes to arrive. Kind of defeats the point of calling it fast food; you could easily be served at a sit-down restaurant in that time. And though the chicken nuggets fared well and the burger was decent, according to the test subject, the fries were soggy and disappointing.
Okay. Fine. That's all well and good. Now for the elephant in the room: is this seriously what our country needs? It's not enough that we can order in pizza and Chinese? It's not enough that we can get a hot, greasy meal without leaving the relative comfort of our cars? We're struggling enough to fight obesity as it is.
Let's consider: often, delivery services will have a minimum total cost before they will deliver. Obviously, this is speculation, but if that's the case, it has the potential to make people order more food in order to make that minimum. And they won't even reap the minimal benefits of at least burning a calorie or two by walking to the car.
Now, it's not that I think that this one change will necessarily tip the scales (so to speak) back towards rising obesity rates. But I do think that the message Burger King is sending is not only untimely - it's irresponsible.
Why do you think the obesity rates have leveled off? Would you get BK home delivery?