Atlantic Fast Food Cover Story

Why The Atlantic Magazine Says Fast Food May Be Key to Better Health

Atlantic Fast Food Cover Story August 2013Despite the admonitions not to, fast food may just be the cure for obesity, according to The Atlantic’s latest cover story—especially with the big chains engineering their products to be healthier.

With ever more dietary scrutiny, the admonition to shun fast foods and other processed fare has perhaps never been louder. With the growing awareness of the country’s obesity epidemic and eco-friendlier eating options, the push to opt for what’s fresh and what’s local has never been stronger.

But according to The Atlantic’s latest cover story, David H. Freedman, author of Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them, makes the case that getting collectively healthier is about more than making that seemingly simple choice and why embracing fast food could ultimately be part of the solution.

Price: Wholesome, fresh foods may be better choices, but they often come at a higher price—making them cost-prohibitive for some. For example, Freedman recounts several personal experiences in purchasing and taste-testing all-natural fruit and veggie smoothies that are two to three times the cost of one of the similar healthier options you’d find at McDonald’s—and not nearly as tasty. He makes the argument that price must be taken into consideration to truly make fresh, natural foods a realistic option for everyone.

Habit: This one may be an offshoot of price, but many bad habits—particularly eating habits—are hard to break. If only those fast foods didn’t taste so good or weren’t so convenient! Whether it’s out of addiction (for which some hold the mega fast foods chains responsible) or laziness, some aren’t going to give up the taste or the convenience of fast foods to spend the time purchasing and preparing something better. It can be done, Freedman says, but it’s going to take breaking some long-held bad habits for some people to get there.

Taste: Back to Freedman’s smoothie experience for a moment. He writes that he could barely finish one of his all-natural, all-healthy treats that was upwards of $10, making the point that just because something is better for you doesn’t always mean it tastes better. And perhaps this is the rub. Already, according to the article, the big fast food chains are hard at work engineering their foods with the additions of “fat cushions” and “phantom aromas” that make the food taste the same—even while the fat and calories are reduced. Basically, as long as people are going to embrace fast food—despite the many publicized reasons not to—at least make it a healthier choice.