Sept. 18 – More Mac, More Problems

Gay Lynn HillBell Ringers, Economics(BR)

September 18, National Cheeseburger Day

The quintessential cheeseburger, perhaps the most classic of American foods, has become synonymous with fast-food giants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and In-n-Out amongst others. Some do it better than most, but the concept remains the same for all. Not too long ago, one popular way of ordering your meal was to “super size” it. These bigger meals were obviously more filling, arguably more addictive, and certainly more unhealthy. Such was the subject of Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary, Super Size Me, in which Spurlock seemed to document the effects of eating and drinking only items off of the McDonald’s menu three times a day for 30 consecutive days. His only other rule- whenever asked if he’d like to “super size” his meal, he must accept.

It was recently revealed that Spurlock is an alcoholic, and therefore some of the more surprising effects such as liver damage may have been more due to his regular alcohol abuse. Nevertheless, we all know how bad fast-food can be for our health, and there is no doubt that eating as much fast food as Spurlock did is not a good idea. The negative effects of his actions can be considered the unintended consequences of a diet high in fast-food.

On the other hand, McDonald’s is also a great success story. Until recently hunger was a bigger problem than obesity. McDonald’s delivers more calories per dollar than any other restaurant. By satisfying hunger, it has created another, now bigger problem.



Questions:
  1. Companies are motivated to keep customers coming back. Whose job is it to see that they don’t overdo it? The company? The government? Or the Customer? Why?
  2. What would government intervention to stop obesity look like? In other words, how might the government create healthier eating habits? Can you think of any recent examples of policies designed to do so?
  3. Over the past few years, there has been a shift in consumer tastes from cheap fast-food to slightly more expensive, but often fresher and healthier fast-casual food. What do you think caused this shift? Was it a purely natural redirection of the market, or was it something else?

Image Citation:

July 23, 2018, Super Size Me. [Digital image]. Retrieved from <www.amazon.com>.