May 11, 2009

Is "Better" Junk Food Really Better?

Eat This, Not That? Why eat any of it?

nestly may9 kfc post.jpgThere's been a lot of talk about Oprah's free chicken coupon mess. I guess she offered a free pass to KFC for adding grilled chicken to its fast food menu, and there wasn't enough chicken.

That's funny. But how about 'grilling' (see I can write for the AP) Oprah over the food instead of the coupon. The 'food' is a KFC's healthier grilled chicken - but it includes two carb-and-salt heavy side dishes and a carbon water full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Yes, the chicken is healthier since the skin is off - and grilled is better than fried.

But don't the chickens come from factory farms? She even went to court to defend herself for defaming the raising and treatment of cattle [Texas Cattlemen v. Lyman and Oprah] Now she's okay with it? Maybe she was attacked by a chicken at an early age, or on the set of the Color Purple? Maybe she just hasn't read the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production's report on environmental impact and the lousy working condition in poultry processing factories? Well, let's just dismiss that with a large check.

The bigger issue is why would someone who has such a famous relationship with her fat cells sending folks to KFC?

Oh sure, it's 'healthy' but realistically - it's only the illusion of healthy. Dr. Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics says,
Dr. Nestle: A having a healthy option creates a "health aura"--the illusion that anything eaten in the vicinity of something healthful is automatically healthful too.

Researchers demonstrate the power of the health aura to give people license to make less nutritious choices. Brian Wansink and his colleagues at Cornell have shown that putting a low-fat label on a food product is all you have to do to get people to eat more calories from it than they would otherwise. And researchers have just shown that customers will order more French fries from a menu that lists a salad than they will from one that doesn't.

Those are examples of the health aura in action. If grilled chicken works for KFC as salads did for McDonald's, it will bring in new customers, at least temporarily. But health aura research predicts that having a healthier option at KFC will encourage most customers to order more of everything else."
Bottom line - if the fast food industry really wanted to help their customer's health it would
(1) make it easier and cheaper for customers to order smaller portions,
(2) make healthy kids meals the default,
(3) add vegetables (other than potatoes) to all of their meals,
(4) provide fruit desserts, [hopefully without syrups and frosting]
(5) reduce the sugars and salt in everything they make.

Really. Who am I kidding? They'll just introduce a grilled chicken - and call it a day.


Zeny said...

I think it's Oprah's plan to get everyone fat so she can feel skinny.

Whatsthisworldcomingto said...

Good for KFC for offering more choices to their customers. KFC has an obligation to shareholders to turn a profit, regardless of how healthy the menu content. Fast food companies such as McDonald and the like are openly advertising their nutrition content because of the "food natzis" and government intervention into what Americans can and can not eat. This concept is ridiculous! Americans are free (for now) to eat what we want when we want regardless of how the chickens are treated before they are killed! As long as the food is good, I for one, could care less about the nutritional content and environment of the cows, chickens and hogs before the slaughter. What's next, Concern for the treatment of broccoli before it is beheaded for bagging?

nbloom said...

First KFC is not just shaving off a few calories and a couple of milligrams of sodium there. There is a difference of nearly 200 calories and 600 milligrams of sodium between the KFC fried chicken breast and the grilled chicken breast.

What is wrong with getting the grilled chicken, a side of green beans and side of Cole slaw? And throw out the biscuit since it is all empty calories and a surprising amount of sodium. BTW do you know what the most caloric thing on the menu is? The A&W Root Beer. A 20oz serving has 300 calories. And these are not the nice make you feel full calories of fat and protein. This is nearly pure HFC empty calories. Two grilled chicken thighs have few calories, for perspective.

People need to be educated about what are the healthy choices and show some common sense and restraint. As Pogo once said "We have met the enemy, and they are us"