After moving out of committee yesterday, Los Angeles’ proposed “fast food” moratorium is one step closer to becoming law. It’s worthwhile to note that L.A. County commissioned a study last year, which found “fast food” restaurants were not significantly correlated with childhood obesity. This didn’t faze the food cops. The city official who first called for the ban continues to justify the regulation on the grounds that obesity is somehow tied to any establishment that:
dispenses food for consumption on or off the premises;
offers a “limited” menu;
prepares items in advance or quickly;
doesn’t take orders tableside; and
serves food in disposable wrapping or containers.
For now, ignore the fact that everything from your grandmother’s kitchen to a booster club bake sale fits these vague criteria. The bigger problem is that these guidelines have nothing to do with the quality of food served. While some of the highest calorie dishes are served on non-disposable china in L.A.’s fine-dining hot spots, fast food restaurants can dole out mixed green salads and fresh fruit to plenty of hungry customers, regardless of whether they’re sitting at a table, standing at a counter, or passing by the drive-thru window.
But none of that factors into the city’s arbitrary embargo on “fast food” — whatever that means. The rationale is this: Bureaucrats have declared it “fattening,” and therefore, it must go. But if lawmakers are going to follow that logic, they must also push for moratoriums on other “fattening” institutions, like marriage and day care.
There’s evidence to back that up. “Marriage definitely can be fattening,” a leading authority on nutrition explained to Australia’s Courier Mail over the weekend. Another study supported that notion, showing that falling in love translates to weight gain for more than 60 percent of women. Research released yesterday found that babies who attend day care get fatter than those who stay home. Add to that low-fat foods, pharmaceuticals, pollution, sleep deprivation, chronic stress, thermostats, and smoking; all of these factors were linked to love handles in last week’s obesity series in the Los Angeles Times.
The fact is that almost everything in our lives has been, at one time or another, tied to our plump physiques. The truly important question is not if something influences our weight, but how much it does. And to that end, physical activity outranks the rest: marriage, day care, and even “fast food.” So tell L.A.’s food cops to take a hike. After all, it’s good for their health.