We have a love-hate relationship with fast food in the US. We hate that it isn't the best food we can choose to eat, but we love the convenience. We hate that it comes jam-packed with more calories than we need, but we love the convenience. We hate that it isn't nutrient-dense, but we love the convenience.
See a theme there? It's a love-relationship built on convenience.
At what price though, long-term? And why our fascination with fast food?
Part of the problem, I think, is the mixed messages we receive from fast food companies. On the one hand they agree we should eat healthful foods, while on the other they tantalize us with slick marketing to divert attention from the fact that eating lots of fast food isn't really healthy.
Case in point: Today two articles are out about McDonald's - one is touting the company's efforts to promote exercise; the other highlighting the re-introduction of the Super-Size, 42-ounce soda.
In the new promotion, "McKids", McDonald's is introducing a line of skateboards and bikes donning the golden arch to aid kids in burning off the calories of french fries and burgers. McDonald's Global Chief Marketing Officer Larry Light said in a statement earlier this week that the skateboards and bikes are "designed to help make fitness fun."
The "McKids" line is just another step in McDonald's recent attempts for a healthier, positive food service - in light of criticisms that they promote unhealthy lifestyles and contribute to the increasing obesity in American society.
So far so good, although I really don't think that kids need to be used to advertise McDonald's on their bikes and skateboards - which is what happens when a child rides a bike with the golden arches on it. But, that's another issue.
Same day, different paper, we find that McDonald's is also re-introducing their 42-ounce Super-Size sodas. At 410-calories - empty calories - the Super-Size sodas are back as part of a summer promotion in the Chicago area where outlets will be giving them away free with the purchase of a Big Mac and fries.
Getting rid of 42-ounce drinks was a key part of McDonald's highly touted March 2004 rollback of super-sizing. The Oak Brook-based company depicted it as an effort to simplify its menu, but the move followed stepped-up criticism by health advocates who charged the fast-food giant with contributing to the nation's obesity problem. It also coincided with the release of "Super Size Me," a documentary alleging bad health effects from an all-McDonald's diet.
Free 42-ounce, 410-calorie sodas and kids' bikes and skateboards sporting the golden arches...what's next? Glucose monitors with a smiling Ronald? Insulin pumps donning the golden arches?