Los Angeles Allows Fast Food Ban

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," July 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

E.D. HILL, HOST: Battle of the bulge, government style. Southern California lawmakers want to ban opening up new fast food chains for at least one year in south L.A. Why? To keep the people there from getting fatter. Well, some argue the ban goes way too far limiting people's choice. So, is the ban crossing the line by telling us what we can eat, where we can eat it?

Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar joins us now and supports the ban. Also with us is nutritionist, Tanya Zuckerbrot. She is author of "The F-Factor Diet." Thank you both for being with us.


Video: Watch E.D. Hill's Interview

HILL: Councilman, I'm going to have them put up on the screen part of what this ordinance would say. And it talks about limiting these fast food restaurants for one year. They are fast food restaurants which have a limited menu. What does that mean? What is a limited menu?

Well, actually that's a question I asked in committee this past Tuesday when the ordinance was passed. And it's got a broad definition. And the idea how we define a fast food restaurant is really if it has several characteristics including a limited menu. There is no precise definition as to the number of items but it does have some sense of a - not as variety or diverse as a sit-down restaurant.

And I wanted to make one point that we're not really limiting choices for people in this neighborhood. We actually want to open up choices because right now, if you drive down in that neighborhood, all you see are fast food restaurants. And we want to limit the number of new fast food restaurants that come in to give other restaurants with healthier choices to come in. So we give these residents a choice.

HILL: Now, as you can imagine, the restaurant association is not too happy about this. Let's put up what they have to say about this, "We have a fundamental problem with governments stepping in and treating restaurants as if they are engaged in activity that is at the root of the obesity epidemic.

Now, Tanya - I don't know. I don't go to a lot of fast food are restaurants, but I go to Subway. I believe Jared that there are healthy options. He just seems believable. With McDonald's offering salads and Wendy's having their salad bar and things like that, can you eat healthy at fast-food restaurants?

TANYA ZUCKERBROT: Of course you can. But the truth is that people of low socioeconomic status aren't going for the salads because the dollar menu doesn't include salads. For a dollar, you can get a burger and fries and the salads are costing $5 or $6.

HILL: OK. But I hear that a lot, that people go to fast food restaurants because they are the lower socioeconomic class. But can't you go to the grocery store and buy healthy food? I mean, isn't this a choice that people are making for that same, you know, $5 to $8 it costs to buy a meal at a McDonald's or something. Can't you go to the grocery store and get a healthy meal?

ZUCKERBROT: You absolutely can. And actually on FOX NEWS health blog, we're going to be posting some comparisons that we did. If you go to the supermarket and you can make up a lot of these same dishes such as one of these breakfast sandwiches, if you buy your own English muffin and use an egg and use a low-fat cheese, you could save almost $5. And if you repeat that for a week, that's $25 a week in savings. Of course, it's $100 at the end of the month.

But that's not just financial savings, there's a caloric savings that you're saving, thousands of calories. And the reason that this is so important is that we are seeing an epidemic of obesity among our youth especially in southern Los Angeles.


HILL: I'm sorry. Jose, I wish we had more time to talk about this. It's just been a packed show covering everything going on. Thank you very much for joining us today.

HUIZAR: Thank you.

HILL: And Tanya, thank you as well.


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