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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Fast-food ban violates essential rights

    I realized this summer that Americans are seriously in trouble. I’m not referring to the ridiculously high gas prices we are forced to pay, even though they have shaped the way we’ve made our travel decisions. Though they’ve suggested alternative forms of transportation, the government has not placed restrictions on our driving habits. If only the same could be said about their infringement on our eating habits.

    At the end of July, the city of Los Angeles set a year-round ban on fast-food restaurants in highly obese areas. A week ago, San Jose, Calif. created a similar ban preventing McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants from being within 1,000 feet of public schools. This ban was reprieved, but the Los Angeles rule still stands and other cities have started following this trend. This overbearing rule is imposing itself on both ends of California, so how long will it take for it to reach other states and cities, further monitoring the diets of all Americans?

    As you may have guessed, the government hopes to fight obesity with the implementation of these bans. It’s undoubtedly a severe problem for many. And restaurants of all sorts have knowingly enabled and encouraged poor eating habits to the entirety of the country, including those not suffering from obesity. Even so, banning the existence of fast-food is not only a violation of American freedom, but incredibly counterproductive.

    Fast-food chains are not the only gorge-outlets this country has to offer. I have friends who are very vocal about their anti-fast food eating beliefs because of what they’ve heard on the news and read in magazines, yet they’ll dine at Ruby Tuesdays and consume 955 calories over dessert, after a satisfying, starchy meal, of course. It’s too easy to point fingers at Burger King and Wendy’s for giving their costumers heart attacks and unattractive excess baggage, but in many cases, people are eating even more poorly at sit-down restaurants where they fill up on bread before indulging in appetizers, dinner and dessert. On top of everything else, the portion sizes are unnecessarily large. Though I hold anyone accountable for what he puts in his mouth, it is tempting not to clean a gigantic plate of good food placed in front of me in restaurants, which could better serve customers by keeping their promise and actually offering small portions.

    Those in support of the San Jose school McDonald’s ban suggested that the McDonald’s be replaced by grocery stores, which would essentially set the students’ eating habits straight. Even if this ban were to go into effect, the children could very well head straight to the candy and soda aisle at Safeway. When deciding between a turkey sandwich and pack of M&Ms, children don’t always have the willpower to choose the latter option; therefore, this ban wouldn’t be constructive or improve the health of young kids.

    The most absurd part of this entire ban is that it takes away our freedom to choose and think for ourselves. Morbidly obese men and women may be doing themselves a disservice by making daily trips to Taco Bell or Kentucky Fried Chicken, but if they want to continue to subject themselves to heart disease and several forms of cancer, they should be able to eat as heartily as they wish. Other than devastating their family members and friends, they’re hurting no one. Having lost an immediate family member to cancer – aggravated by poor eating habits – I understand the frustrations of outsiders who watch the unhealthy slowly kill themselves. These people should also know that one can neither change nor control the behavior of others, especially if these others like their lifestyles and are willing to face the consequences of what they do.

    Considering the stresses of work, financial responsibilities and all the anxieties that come with hectic lives, both obese and healthy Americans deserve to enjoy a gluttonous McFlurry every once in a while. Someday, the current restrictions may spread and prevent physically fit citizens from treating themselves to an ice cream.

    Laura Donovan is a junior majoring in creative writing. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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