Let minorities make their own decisions about where they buy their meals and what they choose to consume. Using zoning laws to restrict fast food restaurants won’t curb their appetites for burgers and fries; they’ll just generate more business for the existing burger joints, creating longer lines at drive-thru windows and potentially leading to traffic problems due to parking lot overflows.
Wisconsin’s new 10-year public health plan, released Wednesday, suggests that municipalities use zoning regulations to limit the number and density of fast food restaurants, particularly in low income neighborhoods.
The proposal is among a list of strategies state health officials say can help reduce obesity and other health disparities in Wisconsin, where surveys have found 64 percent of adults are overweight or obese. A recent national report found that the state’s African American residents had the highest rate of obesity in the country.
“It would be an ill-advised public health policy. I say that because 70 percent of meals consumed by Americans are still prepared at home,” Pete Hanson, a lobbyist with the Wisconsin Restaurant Association told The Cap Times. “So is banning fast food restaurants really the thing that will stem obesity in America? Probably not.”
Hanson added that fast food restaurants are increasingly expanding their menu selections to include healthy alternatives to greasy, calorie-laden mainstay items that food cops prefer to ignore when making their case against fast food restaurants.
“You don’t have to have fries with your hamburger at a fast food restaurant,” Hanson says. “You can have a fruit cup. You can order salads. You can have a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried chicken. There are plenty of healthy choices, but customers have to choose them.”