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It's Official: This Recession May Make You Fat

Today is Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday), so it's fitting that I'm writing about how unhealthy we're becoming as a nation - indeed, as a planet. According to the Guardian, the number of new cases of diabetes being diagnosed in the UK is growing at a faster rate than in the US. Now that is depressing. And when I read the headline in the LA Times yesterday--"Fast food restaurants and stroke--a link?"--I was so bummed I nearly reached for a second tub of Ben & Jerry's.

We could soon see more panic-inducing health-related stories if the current boom in fast-food joints continues. Last week, KFC announced the creation of 9,000 new jobs in the UK (which brings a whole new meaning to the term 'credit crunch'), while, closer to home, El Pollo Loco continues its nationwide expansion. Everyone's weighing in on the topic: According to a Wall Street Journal article, sales in quick-service restaurants are expected to rise by 0.4% this year, while full-service restaurant sales are expected to decline by 2.5%. Hell, McDonald's has even been declared 'recession proof', as Edwin mentioned in a recent post.

OK, so we've known for years that fast food is, on the whole, bad for us, and that sales increase when the economy is faltering because it's cheap. But while we're stuck in this godforsaken recession and until there are better healthy fast-food options, what are we to do? Right now, we're worried about paying the mortgage and hanging on to our jobs, not about how many grams of saturated fat this or that burger has. But it's not just that... To me, fast food means comfort food. That's why gourmet burger joints are as popular as Michelin-starred bistros. Put it this way: If I'm going to the golden arches, it ain't for a salad.

I'm not saying we should go all out and forget about our bodies entirely - or that we should have carte blancmange to stuff our faces from dawn till midnight. I'm just saying that these kinds of headlines don't do much except increase our stress levels. And, frankly, we could do without that right now.

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