Food and obesity

Despite the fact that over 30% of Americans are considered obese, they continue to expect and consume very large portions of food. This is part of a culture that glorifies and celebrates things that are large. Large homes, large cars, and large food portions are made possible by America’s abundant wealth and natural resources and celebrated as a key aspect of American culture. Bigger is better.

McDonald’s revolutionized the restaurant sector by applying an assembly line model to their hamburger restaurant. This process produces food of predictable quality in an efficient manner. In order to be profitable, non-fast food chains like the Cheesecake Factory must quickly produce food products of predictable quality without wasting ingredients or resources such as water and electricity. These restaurants have set up processes that rely upon training low-skilled workers how to create high-quality products by following strict processes.

„Bigger is better“: Many travelers have noted that American food portion sizes are much larger than portions in other countries in Europe and Asia. A medium sized drink or meal in America is the equivalent of a large in many Asian or European countries. Mainstream America tends to value size and price over the quality of a food product. Most fast food chains give customers the option of super-sizing a meal for a small fee ($0.50 – $1.00). Super-sizing increases the apparent value of the meal because it increases the size (and calorie count) for a small sum of money.

Some corners of American society have begun to strive for healthier, more sustainable portion sizes. One notable example is the controversial decision by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to limit soft drink sizes. The law bans the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces and is aimed at curbing obesity and unhealthy habits that ultimately increase medical costs and decrease worker productivity.

Another initiative aimed at encouraging Americans to make better eating choices is the federal law that forces food chains with more than a certain number of store locations to post calorie information on the menu. This law was part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as „Obamacare.“