Google “Pizza Hut hot dog crust” and you will find American news sources disgusted with the pizza giant’s new menu item available only in the United Kingdom.
It’s been called the “latest food monstrosity” and the American media seems grateful that the focus has been taken away from our obesity epidemic and love of all things fried.
But Pizza Hut is not the top pizza company in the world without reason. Yum! Brands, parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, generated $12 billion in revenue in 2011 pedaling processed, reconstituted and deep fried edibles the company likes to call food.
While the United States tops the obesity list at 35.7 percent of our population, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the United Kingdom follows close behind as the third heaviest country in the world. FYI, our neighbors in Mexico took spot number two.
Britain’s Mail Online reported recently that obesity kills more people in the United Kingdom than anywhere else in Europe, with about one in every 11 deaths linked to carrying excess fat.
The article, written by James Chapman, reports that “the growing health disaster is being blamed on the rise of aggressively marketed, fat laden fast food and couch potato lifestyles.”
The health crisis is costing the British about $4.14 billion a year, much less than the revenue Pizza Hut enjoys on an annual basis.
The rate of people dying from obesity-related illnesses, such as heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes, is fast approaching smoking as the number one cause of death in both the United States and United Kingdom.
Another disturbing issue is childhood obesity, which afflicts 12.5 million unfortunate kids here at home. Not only are their lives shortened, but their physical and emotional quality of life is directly affected by being overweight.
We have successfully taken on smoking with strict laws regarding marketing to kids, warnings on the boxes and restrictions on where and when smoking is allowed. In many instances health insurance companies are even allowed to charge more when the person covered is a smoker.
Why are we not protecting ourselves and our children from the fast- and processed-food industries as we have the cigarette companies?
No lie, glistening white and yellow cheese corralled by a doughy, hot-dog stuffed crust must taste amazing. Of course it does, that’s how Yum! Brands racks up so much, well, dough. But, the better it is, the more we should be protecting our children from it.
And not just our children it seems, as we’re probably eating it at the same time we’re feeding it to our kids. So maybe we need to be protected from ourselves, as much as we hate to think we need that.
But we already do it, a lot. Laws prohibit us from ingesting many types of substances that are bad for our health and the health of our society. We should be doing the same with foods we know destroy our bodies, rack up health care costs and pump billions of dollars into an industry happy to profit at the expense of people’s lives.
Of course, people don’t have to eat it. We should have the freedom to choose what we want to eat. Yes, true. But just as with smoking, it didn’t become outright illegal, rather the government’s aggressive education campaign worked well to make people aware of the health effects of smoking. Laws were passed forcing the smoking industry to print warnings on cigarette boxes. There is an age limit.
While Americans will not have the dough encrusted sausage with a pizza in the middle at their fingertips, we should have enough of our own deep-fried turkeys and Twinkies to reign as the number one fattest nation in the world for many years to come.
Britain’s obesity death rate:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Photo credit: Pizza Hut