On Wednesdays I like to go to McDonald’s for lunch. This Wednesday, as usual, I ordered a double cheeseburger meal. With medium fries and a Diet Coke this is a good value at $2.99, and it keeps me filled up until dinner. For kicks, today I flipped the place mat and read the nutritional content: 440 calories in my double cheeseburger, 23g of fat, 11g of saturated fat, 80mg of cholesterol and 1150mg of sodium. In my medium fries I consumed 380 calories, 19g of fat, 2.5g of saturated fat and 270mg of sodium. Generally, I don’t worry too much about this tasty weekly bargain, given my relatively healthy diet, daily exercise and normal body mass index. However, some may not agree with my lack of alarm.
Increasingly we’re hearing about government regulation of food. Yesterday I read the May edition of Atlantic Monthly. Its article, “Beating Obesity,” was about the obesity epidemic, comparing and contrasting excess food as a social ill, with tobacco. Much like the tobacco industry, the food industry has been under recent attack for formulating and marketing the addictive processed foods that our children snack on. As we all know, these foods are rich in sodium, sugar and fat, and contribute to obesity and chronic health problems including, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others. Salt is the most recent of these nutritional poisons to come into the limelight.
There is epidemiological evidence from the NHANES Trial and others that high salt intake is linked with hypertension and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal demonstrated worse outcomes in those who consumed a high salt diet. The recommended daily allowance of sodium for people at low risk is 2300 mg. For those at high risk, which I am sorry to say includes healthy me, the recommended daily allowance is less than 1500 mg. “High risk” is defined as: over age 40, people who have high blood pressure or slightly elevated blood pressure, people who have diabetes, and African Americans. This constitutes 70 percent of Americans. Perhaps I should think twice about my weekly meal.
On April 20, 2010 the
It seems to me that the food industry is in trouble. Regulation of food has become increasingly popular. In 2006 the New York City Board of Health made New York City the first to ban trans fat from restaurant food. Bill Clinton has campaigned to get sugary soft drinks out of schools, which has been demonstrated to be an effective means of combating childhood obesity, Michelle Obama’s current agenda. The movie Food Inc. certainly showed the ugliness of food industrialization in our country, portraying the big business aspect, with its primary focus on mass production. The implication was that the FDA and USDA have been negligent.
In my neighborhood of