Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pulling a Fast One

Council Speaker Chris Quinn wants to zone out fast food outlets. According to the NY Daily News: "City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is waging a Big Mac attack. Hoping to stop fast-food restaurants from saturating poor neighborhoods, she announced plans Tuesday to single out the junk-food joints in the city zoning code. Currently, fast-food chains are indistinguishable from other restaurants in the city charter, making it impossible for lawmakers to restrict the number of them in poor neighborhoods."

Now many of you may remember that it was then Council health committee chair Joel Rivera who first proposed considering restricting these fast food restaurants-something that got him the coveted Knucklehead Award from the Daily News. But, is another restriction on local business really the answer to the city's obesity plague?

In our view, this is at best a non sequitor, and at worst counterproductive-restricting the kind of business activity that is crucial to the health of low income neighborhoods. The food police and Quinn, however, disagree: "For me, this comes up as a ... frustration," Quinn told a group yesterday gathered at Hunter College School of Social Work for the release of a CUNY report comparing childhood obesity in London and New York. The study - which shows higher childhood obesity rates here - suggests New York follow London's lead in combating the epidemic, including passing zoning rules that limit access to fast-food joints."

Trust us, if the folks in these neighborhoods catch on to the way in which eating too much of certain foods is unhealthy for them than the fast food outlets will clamor to cater to these consumer trends. Let's place the responsibility here where it belongs-on those New Yorkers who need to be educated better to live healthier lives. Increasing the power and scope of local government will not only have little real impact it will also, in the long run, make all of our lives unhealthier.