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Convenience of fast food not worth sacrificing health or money

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012

Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2012 02:06

With the country’s volatile economy and high unemployment rates, many Americans are searching for ways to conserve money. Unfortunately, they are sacrificing one of the most important things in life: their health.

Over the past 20 years, America has had a significant increase in obesity rates. It is not uncommon to see people walk to work eating a McDonalds McGriddle and carrying a Starbucks coffee, which translates into higher calories and a subsequently declined health.

This is affecting the workforce and college students alike. Most students are constantly in a rush, and universities make it easy to grab a meal by scattering places such as Starbucks and Burger King around their campuses. These chains have greatly contributed to what is commonly known as the “Freshman 15.” USA Today reported that 59 percent of students noticed a major decline in their diet quality since they started attending college.

Between the “bargain deal” advertisements and the conve¬nience of ready-made meals, fast food can seem like a brilliant idea to anyone on a time or money crunch.

Yet, is your health really worth sacrificing? Is fast food really cheaper and faster?
The answer is no.

A Daily Yonder study found that the lowest average amount of money spent yearly on fast food is about $320-$400 per capita. The highest comes to an astonishing $707.75. In 2006, McDonald’s Corp. revenue alone was found to be $21.6 billion, with Starbucks following behind at $7.8 billion.

Americans are turning more toward fast food than grocery stores and natural sources of food. Now is a better time than ever to discover easy methods to dine at home and become the person with a “brown-bag lunch.”

In terms of time and convenience, consider preparing and packing meals in advance. Remember the classic PB&J and the ever-popular turkey sandwich? These grade-school lunchbox staple foods can offer health benefits without spending money at chain restaurants. Ten dollars at Publix can provide four sandwiches, while $5 plus tax can purchase one foot long at Subway, which means Subway sandwiches would cost $20 plus tax over four days. That is twice the amount of money a person would spend on four days’ worth of homemade lunches. Likewise, a $10 pound of coffee can provide up to 30 servings, making each serving roughly 33 cents, compared to spending $1.50 on one tall coffee at the USF Starbucks.

The habit of running back and forth between fast-food restaurants has become far too common, and it is not something that will disappear overnight. So-called “deals” make it difficult to fit a wallet in one’s back pocket. Fast food should have never become the venue to turn toward for the sake of convenience. It is important Americans rethink their priorities and choose their health over future medical bills and pants with an elastic waistband.

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