The food environment we live in today is vastly different from the past. In 1970, there were 50,000 “quick service restaurants,” or QSRs, in the United States. By 2003, there were over 138,000 QSRs.
The United States has the largest QSR industry in the world. Recent reports estimate that there are currently 200,000 QSR’s.
At the same time, the amount of food marketing directed at children has risen dramatically. In 2006, food companies spent over $1.6 billion on marketing to children alone. Of that amount, 63% was spent by QSRs, carbonated beverage companies, and breakfast cereal companies. The vast majority of these foods are very low in nutritional value. For example, a study conducted by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that cereals marketed to children have 85% more sugar, 65% less fiber, and 60% more sodium content than those marketed to adults. In addition, not one of the eleven cereals most advertised to children qualify for inclusion on the food package for the USDA Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which provides nutritious food to low-income families.View Tammy Algood’s explanation of how food manufacturers use pester power as a marketing tool to children: Extended Interviews: Causes of Obesity
For many families with limited transportation options, having access to healthy food is an issue of location, with QSRs being more accessible than fresh markets and grocery stores.
Food Deserts: Maps showing location of QSR’s in Nashville’s food desert areas.
Over the years, Americans’ sense of portion sizes has shifted dramatically—along with their increasing waistlines. The average portion size of a bagel, burger, or soda is now double, or sometimes triple, the size it was 30 years ago. A 2002 study found that every item surveyed, with the exception of sliced white bread, exceeded USDA and FDA standard portions. It also found that the smallest sizes of many items, including soda, chocolate bars, french fries and hamburgers, are now 2 to 5 times larger than then when the product was initially introduced.
Portion Size Study 2002 [pdf].
Take an interactive quiz and learn how portion sizes have changed.
Portion Distortion 1 [pdf]
Portion Distortion 2 [pdf]
Download a handy reminder of accurate serving sizes [pdf]
View Tammy Algood’s explanation of how our caloric intake has changed over the years:
Link to extended interviews>causes of obesity
There has also been a dramatic rise in the availability of sodas—loaded with sweeteners and containing no nutritional value—and, as a result, a rise in the amount that Americans consume per year. The U.S. has the highest per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the worldBeverage digest report, with carbonated beverages being the leading grocery item purchased by Americans. As the amount spent on sodas increase, the amount spent on milk decreases. In 1945, Americans drank four times more milk than carbonated soft drinks; in 1997, they consumed nearly two and a half times more soft drinks than milk. While there have been no recent studies on how much Americans drink soda today compared to milk, it is clear that the rate has been increasing dramatically over the years.
For the 52 weeks ending June 14, 2009, the Top 10-selling grocery items are as follows (*note: ranked by dollar sales, in billions): ITEM SALES ($B) % CHANGE
1.) Carbonated Beverages $12.00 1.86
2.) Milk $11.20 -8.44
3.) Fresh Bread & Rolls $9.57 4.77
4.) Beer/Ale/Hard Cider $8.17 5.42
5.) Salty Snacks $8.09 9.75
6.) Natural Cheese $7.64 7.75
7.) Frozen Dinners/Entrée $6.13 0.18
8.) Cold Cereal $6.11 2.12
9.) Wine $5.49 3.72
10.) Cigarettes $4.63 -2.18 SOURCE: INFORMATION RESOURCES INC. (IRI) http://www.symphonyiri.com
Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents [link]
Food Marketing Report [pdf]
Institute of Medicine Food Markemarketingting to Children and Youth [pdf]
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:
Food and Beverage Marketing to Children and Adolescents
2010 F as in Fat Report: [link]