It’s no secret that most Americans today are overweight or obese and that the number of weight related illnesses and deaths have skyrocketed in recent years. In an effort to become part of the solution a 13 restaurants in New York City, including the famed Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem, have partnered with Mount Sinai School of Medicine for the “Save Half For Later” campaign which is encouraging customers to eat healthier portions. During the campaign restaurants will be giving out containers to encourage customers to put away half their meals before they start eating.
According to the article:
The restaurant-based portion control initiative began as an effort by Mount Sinai’s IMPACT Communities Diabetes Center and the East Harlem Diabetes Center of Excellence to prevent and manage obesity and diabetes. Adults in East Harlem are at twice the risk of developing obesity or diabetes as adults in Manhattan.
While Mount Sinai and the participating restaurants should be applauded for trying to bring about change, one has to wonder how effective the program will be if the food to be “saved” is unhealthy to begin with? It is true that in the United States our food portions are considerably larger than those provided in European countries and portion control is definitely needed to combat the obesity epidemic, however, a better place to start would be cooking healthier foods to begin with and providing resources so that low income families that cannot otherwise afford a trip to Trader Joes or Whole Foods have fresher produce for their home cooked meals. If a meal, at Sylvia’s for example, is already 2400 calories (which could be a person’s normal recommended daily intake), high in trans fat, sodium and other artery clogging ingredients, then what is saving half going to do anyway? Saving an unhealthy meal just creates another opportunity for an already unhealthy person to continue to make poor eating choices.
Instead of finding ways to pacify unhealthy eaters under the guise of encouraging healthier eating, we need to be providing resources that teach people how to make better choices from the grocery store, to their kitchens and beyond. We need to make healthier options available in low income neighborhoods at affordable prices and we need to make it mandatory for restaurants to prepare dishes in a healthier manner or at the very least provide more healthy options on their menus. Encouraging customers to “save half for later” is great, but when the unhealthy food they’ve saved kills them, please believe the death won’t be half, it will be 100%.