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Chewing over the fast-food measure

August 06, 2008

Re "Fast-food meddling," Opinion, July 31

I disagree with Joe R. Hicks' position on the Los Angeles fast-food moratorium.

I have seen the devastating effects of long-term consumption of foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and low in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. In neighborhoods where fast-food restaurants predominate, regular consumption of such foods contributes to epidemics of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adults and children.

Hicks agrees that the problem exists. He does not agree that the fast-food moratorium can be part of the solution. But the moratorium can encourage more variety and balance in daily diets, giving people the opportunity to make healthier choices.

I applaud this action by the City Council and Councilwoman Jan Perry.

John Gordon

Harold MD

Los Angeles

The writer is president of the Los Angeles division of the American Heart Assn. and a former chief of staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The writer has missed the point of the moratorium entirely. Perry's assumption is not that South L.A. residents are incapable of making good dietary decisions on their own. To the contrary, she has listened to what the community has been saying all along: Many residents do want healthy food, but they've got to drop their hard-earned dollars in far-away parts of the city to get it.

Perry's moratorium will have no impact on existing fast-food restaurants in South L.A. It will stop the seemingly endless influx of chains serving up super-sized portions of unhealthy food for one year.

That buys a year for the city to attract healthy-food retailers. It's a year that Perry and South L.A. residents fought hard for, and it holds a lot of promise for a community whose health has been too long overlooked.

Juliet Sims

Oakland

I wish our councilperson was as responsive as Perry. I live next to Highland Park, which is chock-full of fast-food "choices" and little else.

A few years ago, a parcel housing a liquor store, a laundromat, a fresh produce stand and Thai and Salvadoran restaurants came up for sale. Unfortunately, McDonald's Corp. bought the land. In exchange for leveling everything, it offered more of the same bland fast-food. All gone, just like that.

In response, the community wrote letters of protest to our councilman, demanding land use that reflected the diverse needs of a diverse community, all to no avail. Now our McDonald's "restaurant" plies its greasy trade alongside such Highland Park stalwarts as Burger King, Jack in the Box, Wienerschnitzel and Del Taco.

We deserve better choices. Corporations don't care about our health. Refusing to allow them to build for a while should get their attention. Now if I could only persuade Perry to annex our district.

Nick Santangelo

Los Angeles

Re "Council bans new fast-food outlets," July 30

Perry says the recent ban on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles is about "greater food options." But you don't provide options by taking away what people choose. She would be more honest if she admitted that she thinks she knows better than her constituents. Limiting people's freedom of choice is not just wrong, it doesn't work. Fast-food diners will continue to eat unhealthy food, whether at more expensive sit-down restaurants or at home.

What we really need to combat America's obesity epidemic is to educate people to take responsibility for their own health. But for a politician like Perry, "live and let eat" is too much to swallow.

Scott Schneider

Santa Monica

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