Scoot: Are fast food drive-thrus contributing to the obesity problem?
An interesting phenomenon attracted my attention Sunday afternoon. I had just finished a meeting at a popular coffee shop when I drove by a McDonald’s at the beginning of an upscale neighborhood in a popular suburb of New Orleans. I was shocked to see 11 cars in the drive-thru line.
Curious about how crowded it was inside, I pulled in and parked and walked inside. There were 2 registers open, but only one customer inside! It would have been much quicker to get out of the car and get your order to-go than to sit in the long drive-thru line. And yet – many people made the decision to wait in the long line.
I always thought that “time” was such a precious and valuable asset in our lives that anyone would make the effort to get out of their car to get their order rather than to wait in a long line of cars.
There were occasional light sprinkles that afternoon, but they were so light and sparse that you wouldn’t even need an umbrella to walk into the restaurant. So, why were so many people sitting in their cars, vans and SUVs?
Without intending this sounding like criticism – I can’t image choosing the option the sit in the long line at drive-thru. Would you have gone inside or waited in a line of 11 cars?
Obviously, no consideration was given to the wear-and-tear on the car’s engine or the wasted gas – not to mention the auto emissions bellowing into the air we breathe! Sacrificing time for the convenience of never getting out of the car to get a fast food order astounded me.
What is it that is so compelling about the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant? Is it really that convenient? Waiting in line doesn’t always save time and yet, people choose to. If you are in the drive-thru line and your order is not correct – you have to pull into the parking lot – get out of the car with the order – then stand in line (if there is one) to get your order corrected. Does this make sense?
The fact that there were 11 cars in the drive-thru line and an open register inside may a microcosmic vision of inactivity that contributes to the growing obesity problem in America. If the option in life is to choose convenience over making an effort to save time – is it any wonder that we have an obesity problem in this country?
Have we become so sedate that we will waste valuable time waiting if waiting means less physical exertion?
I don’t want to be naïve – there are situations when choosing the drive-thru over walking in a fast food restaurant is justified. For example: If a person is handicapped in some way – or if a parent has their infant in the car seat and waiting in the drive-thru would mean enduring the process of unstrapping the child – bundling the child up – walking in and then navigating the course back to the car with child AND fast food order in hand and then repeating the strapping-in process. I can understand why the decision would be made to sit in the car rather than walk in the restaurant. But I doubt that there were 11 cases in line at the drive-thru when I passed it that had a special reason for remaining in the car.
The conveniences of our world today – including the drive-thru windows at fast food restaurants – invite laziness and laziness contributes to obesity. Whether at work or at home - how many times are you making the decision to favor convenience over exerting effort?
Maybe we should not be so quick to submit to all of the conveniences that are available and look for opportunities to get up and move!