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Counting calories in the drive-thru

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By Larry Rowell

Continuing down the road of bills being proposed in this session of the Kentucky legislature, we find ourselves staring, or rather, glaring, at a bill from Sen. Denise Harper Angel, (D-Louisville). Harper Angel’s bill would require fast food restaurants to post calorie counts on drive-thru menu boards.

It also applies to burgers and fries, as well as menu items at any restaurant chain with 10 or more locations in the state.

It has been estimated that drive-thru windows account for 60 to 80 percent of a fast food restaurant’s sales.

Now, since Kentucky is in the top 10 in terms of overweight and obese citizens in the U.S., it would seem that this bill is a good idea.

Harper Angel said that if Kentuckians were made aware of how many calories were in a fast food meal, we might make better choices.

Listen, dear readers, I believe those tribal folks featured in the Burger King commercials that have never seen nor tasted a Whopper — even these folks would have to know these are not healthy choices.

When they were raised on a diet of rice and fish, it doesn’t take a genius to determine that grease oozing out from meat, cheese and mayonnaise between white bread can lead to all kinds of health problems.

Even the average Kentuckian knows that cheeseburgers and fries four times a week is not healthy.

Then why do we eat them in such prodigious amounts?

We’re southerners, that’s why. The number one rule of cooking in the south is 350-degree grease makes anything taste better, especially French fries. And that also goes for any meat that can be grilled.

Fast food is fast, cheap and familiar to the whole family. Every kid in America over the age of six months knows what a Happy Meal is.

In addition, have you really, really looked at a menu board lately? Besides all the pictures, there are a gazillion food choices, so where, pray tell, will you hang the nutritional values for these food choices?

At my age, I don’t read small print well, and usually in a fast food drive- thru line I order quickly, as there’s liable to be a hungry teenager impatiently waiting behind me, texting someone on a cell phone while listening to an Ipod and talking to their friends.

I know that Harper Angel’s heart is in the right place with this, but I just don’t see America changing habits. Bad eating habits lead to health problems — and, coupled with the bad economy, we should be eating less fast food. But no.

McDonald’s sales were up 7.4 percent last year, proving once again that you can lead an American to the drive thru, and he or she will still order those tasty, wonderfully greasy, burgers and fries.

Larry Rowell is a staff writer for The Casey County News in Liberty, Ky.