Eau Claire’s fast food abundance doesn’t mean you should eat it

Eau Claire county ranks highest in number of fast food restaurants in the state

Story by Meghan Hosely, Staff Writer

To some, college is time spent on a limited budget, and not having time  (or desire) to cook meals.

This combination can produce lethal results: students are tempted to take the easy way out and spend less time in the grocery store while frequenting their preferred fast food restaurants.

Even though many students may have a ‘fast metabolism,’ and they can eat ‘anything they want,’ many don’t know Eau Claire county has actually tailored to this mindset. According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, an organization keeping track of health statistics in the U.S., Eau Claire ranks number one restaurants being fast food restaurants, with a staggering 86 of them. This amounts to 54 percent in the county, compared to the state average of 41 percent of restaurants being fast food.

According to the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, the most popular restaurants in the Eau Claire area include Burger King, Dairy Queen and McDonald’s. Each of these menus include meals surpassing 1,000 calories – half of the daily caloric intake.

People should account for two other meals, along with any snacking throughout the day. Eventually, their supposed fast metabolism will not be able to work as fast, and health risks, such as obesity, will rise.

The Obesity Action Coalition states two things factor into obesity: fast food and environment. The environment can mean numerous things, such as walking or biking paths, parks available, or even health care facilities nearby. However, another important aspect to our environment is our access to fresh foods. In Eau Claire county, eight percent of the population doesn’t have access to a grocery store and many are low income.

Even though many students here at UW-Eau Claire have access to a grocery store, many are low income.

Having access to fresh food is essential to our living. Even if they are expensive, these foods have many attributes, including leaving people feeling more energized throughout the day, or even able to eat more food for the same caloric intake as a burger at the nearest fast food joint. Even though it may seem like the grocery bill will add up, it’s better than having the medical bills add up in the future.

Though it seems as if students have no other options besides eating out, there are many things to keep in mind. Even if eating out is inevitable, with which I’m sure many students agree, some alternatives will reduce the caloric intake.

Opt for the no-calorie drink. Soda provides zero nutritional value and empty calories – a double whammy. Even with the diet sodas on hand, water will always be the best option, complimenting any meal. Another easy swap is to opt for a grilled version instead of the extra-grease, extra-fat option.

Many other alternatives are on the Internet. Research is best when making decisions about a healthy lifestyle, and having an open mind to kicking those unhealthy habits is also key.