Super Sizing and Obesity

fast foodSome things are difficult to ignore even when they are staring you right in the face.

The current trend for more and more people to become overweight leading to obesity in a huge percentage of the population and the way in which fast food has grown in popularity over the last two decades in a link that is too obvious not to have substance.

But with a growing number of the population eating more fast food than ever and the fast food restaurant business seeking ever more profitable avenues of attracting customers and ensuring they keep coming back for more, it is little wonder that there appears to be no respite in the amount of growth in this area.

Increasing Turnover

The fast food restaurants are in business to make a profit, which is easy enough to understand. They provide a product that is easily accessible by consumers and priced low enough to attract them through the doors, while maintaining profit margins large enough to make the business thrive.

But in the endless pursuit of ever greater turnover and thus more riches for the franchise owners, ever more devious ways of getting the public to spend more money have been devised in the last decade or so. One of these is creating a larger meal at a very attractive price which costs more than the "large" meal but appears to be better value.

More Food for Your Dollar

super size friesThe Super Size meals produced by a number of hamburger restaurant chains fulfil this initiative by getting customers to pay more for their meal thanks to the psychological trick of getting them to think they are getting better value for money by paying just a little extra to get a whole load more food. While the additional value of these meals is not being contested here, the way in which it is getting customers to eat even more unhealthy food is an issue that needs to be brought out onto the open.

The additional calories loaded into the super size meals is bad enough, but what is really making a big contribution to the way in which diners are gaining weight is the sugar-laden super size sodas that are served up as part of those super sized meals. The additional sugar just gets turned to visceral fat by the body's metabolic process and that is the dangerous form of body fat that gets distributed around the body and deposited around major organs such as the heart and inside the liver.

More Belly Fat

Visceral fat is also known as "belly fat" because it tends to accumulate most in the area of the belly, causing the "apple shape" of people who have become so overweight through consuming far too much refined sugar (sucrose or high fructose corn syrup) that is present in junk food (many consisting of high glicemic-index carbohydrates) and in soda. This is not only dangerous from a weight perspective, but also from a health perspective as it raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and strokes.

Not a New Phenomenon

obesityActually, the idea of super-sizing, or providing consumers with an extra large version of the product they want to buy is not a new idea by any means. It has been used to good effect for decades by a number of different product marketing campaigns for all manner of different products, both food and non-food.

It plays on people's perception of what is good value for money.

Supermarkets have long offered special deals where you "buy two and get one free," or "two for the price of one," in an attempt to get customers to spend more money buying in bulk to "save money". The principal is sound and as long as the customer exercises restraint in using the product as they normally would, they would save money in the long run.

Of course that would not be good for business from the store's side of things, but they have an ace up their sleeves.

The Need to Use

One thing that was noticed a long time ago by retailers in the behavior of their customers was that when people bought an item in bulk, they tended to use the product up faster. Much faster than they would if they only bought a single item. The same went for food. When the home freezer became full, the owner would tend to try and use up more of the food to make room for the next purchase, especially if their local store was having a special deal on bulk purchase!

It is a psychological trait that people have and probably comes from our ancestors. In times of plenty, people would gorge themselves on the available food to stock up their bodies with excess fat to see them through the lean times that often followed. This behavior extends to the way we use any product, not just food, although food is the best example since this article is focused on the way in which larger meals seem more attractive to people.

Exercise Restraint

The logical way to counter this would be to exercise reasonable restraint, but we seldom do that. We could place ourselves on a low calorie diet or one of the diet meal delivery diets, but we rarely do that either. It is not only instinctive to go for broke and use up whatever we have, but it can also be more pleasurable. In short, more fun!

There is a side to eating a super size meal that panders to a person's sense of competition in that "I can eat as much food as they can give me," or "I won't let that last hamburger beat me!" We derive pleasure from beating that last carton of fries to prove to anyone who cares to see that we can eat more and we don't care how fat it makes us just as long as we succeed in cleaning that plate!

So the fast food industry has got us well and truly hooked on extra large meals, extra large soda and milk shakes or whatever else they decide to put in front of us and our waistlines will continue to expand until we either come to our senses or we face the prospect of occupying an early grave.

Super sized, of course!