WWB WATCH: Not So Fast! Can Fast Food Chains Really Be Healthy?


THE WATCH: I hope you enjoy WWB’s new department designed to keep you informed about major developments in wellness culture. I know how busy we all are and sometimes we miss or gloss over important news stories. ‘The Watch’ will only feature major developments in the beauty, health and wellness sectors and my mission with this department is to keep the ‘news that matters’ on your radar. We also seek to provide context to the developments we share. No definitive conclusions are made by Word Wise Beauty, and we only strive to encourage ‘deeper inquiry’ so you can be your own ‘wise guru’ and make informed decisions for your individual wellness lifestyle. Today we are watching a new trend in fast food chains, to be specific the increase of new “healthy’ fast food chains available to us…

~Truly Herself, Lauroly

                         ‘WATCH’ NEWS STORY: Hold the Regret? Fast Food Seeks Virtuous Side  http://nyti.ms/1rYPczs

CONTEXT: For those who are not familiar with the LOHAS term. LOHAS is a marketing research term used to identify conscious lifestyle trends and is short for ‘Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability’.  It also is used to describe a particular type of consumer. There are many segments in this burgeoning category in the U.S and they are referenced in the NYT story we’re discussing as vegan, pescatarian, and pro-organic. What is important to note is LOHAS consumers shop with their values and are usually well-informed about food manufacturing and ingredients. They want to know where the food came from, the composition of the ingredients and they expect it to be transparent. Another interesting note is the focus on ‘psycho/demographics’ in this news story. It seems as though the Millennium generation is embracing and demanding a healthier fast food chain perhaps because they have been privileged to grow up in a more transparent society which has resulted from the rise of technology and the information age. Baby Boomers had been pushing for this change for years but within the confines of a LOHAS community which was a smaller percentage of the overall consumer market. These times they are a changin…


Photo Credit: Mark Perlstein/NYT

WHAT MATTERS: It is exciting to see new fast food chains attempting a healthier and organic approach to fast food. But it is important for the main stream consumer to understand what the new chains are marketing and hold these chains to transparent accountability as well.  When it comes to smart food choices in a ‘Healthy” fast food chain, we consumers still have to consider the amount of salt, sugar, natural flavors ( chemicals), and preservatives which are often the culprits behind many chronic health conditions. For example, when we do try the new fast chains, we will still have to consider the ‘tasty delicious sauces’ we love in our fast foods as they are usually high in fat, salt or sugar. This leads us back to the big questions ‘what’s in the food and how much’?” I suspect most LOHAS oriented consumers don’t eat in a fast food chains too often, but in reality many Americans eat out several times a week because of convenience. I admit to eating a little Qdoba ( veggie selections) myself  when ‘on the go’ but I have to carefully choose what I order. Are we now to believe eating fast food is healthy? 

The NYT article does a good job overviewing the virtues and positive improvements the new fast food models are bringing to the consumer and our culture.  From an environmental perspective and for humane animal treatment, the new fast food chains represent a positive culture shift in which their business models introduce  ‘socially conscious values’ into their sourcing and operations. This is the most significant progress in my opinion and truly represents an ‘upgrade’ in Fast Food retailing.

WISE TAKE AWAY: So can fast food really be healthy? Well–the answer needs context like most important questions do. Hope I have given you some here. Always seeking wisdom, I have reached out to one of  my highly respected WWB wise gurus, Dr. David L. Katz, a board certified specialist in preventative medicine and on the forefront of integrative medicine. Let’s get his thoughts on the new Fast Food Chains. See my recent interview with him at the Wise Guru department  and learn more about his latest book ‘Disease Proof  The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well’.

Dr. David L.Katz, MD, MPH

“This is a trend I am delighted to see. I believe we can love food that loves us back- but for that to happen, we need the same kind of access to tasty, healthful food that we now have to the dubious offerings of fast food. Widespread, convenient, economical access to wholesome foods can meaningfully improve the typical American diet. I expect these new ventures to thrive, constituting a win/win for those investing in them, and the public health. If we reward the early innovators with our patronage, others will follow- and the modern American foodscape will be transformed for the better. May it be so, and the sooner, the better.” ~Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH

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