The Battle Of The Bulge Is Reaching Many Of America’s Name Brand Restaurants
Obesity is on the rise and has become a national epidemic that health insurance companies, physicians and many politicians are ready, willing and able to fight against. Many health insurance providers have served noticed on companies and municipalities that they had better get their act together and begin to seriously combat obesity among their employees. Physicians warn their obese patients of the short and long term health problems caused by their condition. Politicians like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who have become frustrated with the continuing bad choices made by people at risk for obesity, have begun to fight back by backing new and stricter food and beverage regulations which limit the sale of soft drinks in the super-sized or extra large size option in the New York City.
Thanks to a national campaign of obesity education and prevention by health insurance providers and physicians, several major restaurant chains and major food producers are now beginning to respond to this problem by offering more healthy menu choices and reducing the amount of salt and fat in the food they serve. Among the restaurant giants making these changes is the ever-popular Boston Market. They announced in August of 2012 that the company is no longer placing salt shakers on the tables in their restaurants. They have also taken steps to significantly reduce the amount of sodium in all of their menu items, with a per item goal of a twenty per cent reduction.
Boston Market currently offers a half rotisserie chicken dish which comes in at 1380 mg of salt and a large meat loaf menu choice which has 1640 mg of salt according to the nutritional information listed on their web site. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, so you can see that the Boston Market numbers really do tell the story and easily explain why they want to reduce the amount of sodium in their food. It is not only a wise decision as far as their customer’s health goes, but it might prevent lawsuits or stricter government regulation somewhere down the line.
Boston Market is wisely following a trend started by fast food giants like Burger King, KFC, McDonald's, Nando's, Subway and Wimpy. These companies have signed on to the anti-obesity drive by the Government's Food Standards Agency (FSA). Burger King and Wimpy have already agreed to begin testing frying oils which contain less saturated fat. For their part, Burger King has introduced a healthy apple dessert as an alternative to their popular ice cream products. Subway is already offering a number of low fat sandwich choices, but they have trimmed sodium and even more fat from their menu over the past several years. They have promised to continue making healthy improvements by imposing a yearly review of their entire menu to reduce salt levels and say that their staff has been instructed to stop offering to add salt to fillings. They also plan to offer side salads with their rolls and reduce saturated fat levels in their standard sandwich creations.
Wimpy has introduced new salads to their regular menu and now offer jacket potatoes and salads as alternatives to fries with children's meals. McDonald's has been working hard over the past decade to offer more healthy choices on their fast food menu. They have also made changes when it comes to some of their most popular and well known fast food items. For example, customers can now order a Big Mac without sauce and fries without salt. While many of their new coffee beverages are not exactly conducive to a low sugar diet, they do offer a nice selection of generally healthy fruit smoothies as an alternative to their sugary soft drinks. McDonald’s also says that they plan to introduce more fruit and vegetable options in Happy Meals which will be supported by popular children's cartoon characters.
Salt has become known as a silent killer when it comes to being a threat to people’s health and part of the cause of obesity. Nando’s recently reduced salt in their children’s meals and several other popular menu items by ten to fifty percent. Kellogg’s has implemented a thirty percent reduction in the salt content of their cereal items including Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Coco Pops, Frosties and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Heinz has reduced the salt content of some of their sauces by thirty-nine percent. Domino’s Pizza had told their employees not to add any additional salt to products sold in their stores. Pizza Hut has managed to cut salt in their products by thirty percent across the board. KFC has already reduced the sodium content of many of their most popular menu items by forty percent. Starbucks has reduced the salt content of their sandwiches by fourteen percent.
While Americans may be far from the point of saying that they are winning the way against obesity, the kinds of positive changes being made by national restaurant chains and food producers are a step in the right direction. However, eating sensibly and using less salt is still a personal choice that we all need to carefully consider if we plan to live long and healthy lives.