(Added 9/30/09: If you’re looking for the best burger or cheeseburger in Hawaii, read this review.)
Residents of Hawaii frequently eat cheap food away from home and those cheap foods carry a high hidden cost in the form of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer while increasing profits to fast food companies.
According to Angelina Ahedo, lead author of a study published in 2007 on how frequently members of different ethnic groups living in Hawaii eat fast food:
Native Hawaiian [study] participants ate at fast food restaurants more frequently than Chinese, Caucasian, Filipino, and Japanese participants (p < .05).
Her study also showed that participants with higher BMIs (an indicator of obesity) ate more frequently at fast food restaurants. She also found that gender, income level, of Native Hawaiian ancestry, consuming away-from-home foods, and dieting to lose weight were significant predictors of high BMI.
A second study recently published this week by The Cancer Project looked at rocketing sales of “Value Menu” items offered by fast food chains. They found that five most popular cheap eats are:
- Junior bacon cheeseburger – Jack in the Box
- Cheesy double beef burrito – Taco Bell
- Breakfast sausage biscuit – Burger King
- McDouble – McDonald’s
- Junior bacon cheeseburger – Wendy’s
According to a 2005 report from the Institute of Medicine on the marketing of junk food, the main targets of Value Menu marketing are teenagers, young adults and minorities — in other words, most of Hawaii. Add in hard economic times, and it’s easy to see why the sales of McDonald’s Dollar Menu raised over $5 billion in revenue five years after it started.
Such huge financial gains to companies come at a high price to individual and public health in the form of chronic diseases. When taking the ill health effects into account, I wonder how much does that 99-cent McDouble really cost Hawaii?
1. A. Ahedo et al. Californian Journal of Health Promotion. 2007; 5(2):1-12. Available at: http://www.csuchico.edu/cjhp/5/2/001-012-ahedo.pdf . Acccessed 12/15/08.
2. The Cancer Project. Cheap Eats for Hard Times: The five most unhealthful fastfood ‘value menu’ items. Winter 2008. Available at: http://www.cancerproject.org/media/news/081208.php . Accessed 12/15/08.
3. Institute of Medicine. Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?. December 6, 2005. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/?id=31330&redirect=0 . Accessed 12/15/08.