Fast Food Vindication
Lisa Tillinger Johansen, MS, RD
J. Murray Press
In Fast Food Vindication, registered dietician Lisa Tillinger Johansen, argues that the fast food industry has been wrongly blamed for the obesity problem in the United States and around the world. According to Johansen, conquering obesity can only happen when people take personal responsibility for the food they consume.
Johansen worked in the real estate division at McDonald’s Corporation for seven years before returning to school to earn her master’s in nutritional science. Johansen states that she left McDonald’s because she wanted to do something different with her life, not because she took issue with the type of food the company served. Although she acknowledges that many of McDonald’s menu offerings are not healthy, Johansen makes a point of including descriptions of the new, lite menu items that McDonald’s and other fast food chains have developed. She also explains how many sit-down restaurant and home cooked meals are often higher in calories, fat and sodium than some fast food meals.
Johansen shares her experience dealing with community protests against new McDonald’s restaurants. She also looks at cases in which individuals have sued fast food chains, holding the companies accountable for their obesity. To counter the argument that the fast food industry cares little for the communities their stores are based in, Johansen offers impressive statistics of the industry’s record on employment, education and promotion of its diverse workforce, as well as its charitable contributions to social programs and disaster relief. With each positive point the author presents, Johansen paints a picture of corporate responsibility that appears to be rampant throughout the fast food industry.
One of the most inspiring aspects of the book was the author’s recounting of the history of many of the fast food chains, including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Carl’s Jr., as well as McDonald’s. These powerful corporations all started off as small businesses, and several of them were founded by men who found success later in life. The presentation of the founders’ stories further diminishes the negative image of the fast food industry, particularly when the author explains how the values that went into the creation of these businesses have been sustained.
Johansen goes on to inform readers that fast food in moderation can be incorporated into a healthy diet. In the later part of the book, she discusses eating appropriate portion sizes. There are charts in the book that compare the calorie, fat and sodium content of meals from sit-down and fast food restaurants that I found astonishing. These examples enhance the author’s assertion that accountability is the key to combating the growing problem of obesity, not blaming the fast food industry.
Fast Food Vindication is an enlightening read that thoroughly educates readers about the fast food industry. It also puts the responsibility of eating healthy for a better life squarely on the shoulders of consumers. As Johansen suggests, people can choose to eat healthy from a variety of sources, including fast food restaurants. Moderation is the key to combating obesity and the health problems that accompany it. I highly recommend this book for those on both sides of the fast food argument.
Melissa Brown Levine
Independent Professional Book Reviewers