MONEY deals

Here’s What the World’s Largest Coupon Looks Like

Fast food icon, Jack, of Jack in the Box, makes a rare public appearance to celebrate capturing the Guinness World Record title for the world's Largest coupon on Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2015 in Los Angeles. Fans can get their own Buttery Jack Burgers at their local Jack in the Box by sharing shots of the #WorldsLargestCoupon.
Jordan Strauss—Invision via AP Fast food icon, Jack, of Jack in the Box, makes a rare public appearance to celebrate capturing the Guinness World Record title for the world's Largest coupon on Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2015 in Los Angeles.

At 80 feet tall and 450 times the size of a regular coupon, it's kind of a big deal. And yes, it's a valid coupon—good for a free burger!

This week, the fast food restaurant chain Jack in the Box unveiled a huge—quite literally—new offer. The company needed more than a dozen people to carry the freshly made coupon, which measures 80 feet tall by 25 feet wide, down the streets of Los Angeles. It was then draped down the side of the W Hotel in Hollywood, where it could be admired as the “Largest Coupon” according to Guinness World Records.

The coupon is valid through April 1 for a buy-one, get-one-free Buttery Jack Burger, which features “garlic herb butter melted on top of a new, quarter-pound signature beef patty, tucked inside Jack’s gourmet signature bun.”

You might be thinking it’s a bit impractical to bring an eight-story-high coupon into a restaurant. And you’d be right. But all you need is a picture of the coupon on your phone to get your free burger, and it’s easy enough to locate a photo on social media with the hashtag #WorldsLargestCoupon.

MONEY Millennials

5 Big Myths About What Millennials Truly Want

Jamie Grill—Getty Images

We've heard a ton about millennials—where they want to live, what they love to eat, what's most important to them in the workplace, and so on. It's time to set the record straight.

In some ways, it’s foolish to make broad generalizations about any generation, each of which numbers into the tens of millions of people. Nonetheless, demographers, marketers, and we in the media can’t help but want to draw conclusions about their motivations and desires. That’s especially true when it comes to the young people who conveniently came of age with the Internet and smartphones, making it possible for their preferences and personal data to be tracked from birth.

Naturally, everyone focuses on what makes each generation different. Sometimes those differences, however slight, come to be viewed as hugely significant breaks from the past when in fact they’re pretty minor. There’s a tendency to oversimplify and paint with an exceptionally broad brush for the sake of catchy headlines and easily digestible info nuggets. (Again, we’re as guilty of this as anyone, admittedly.) The result is that widely accepted truisms are actually myths—or at least only tell part of the story. Upon closer inspection, there’s good reason to call these five generalizations about millennials into question.

1. Millennials Don’t Like Fast Food
One of the most accepted truisms about millennials—easily the most overexamined generation in history—is that they are foodies who love going out to eat. And when they eat, they want it to be special, with fresh, high-quality ingredients that can be mixed and matched according to their whims, not some stale, processed cookie-cutter package served to the masses.

In other words, millennials are huge fans of Chipotle and fast-casual restaurants, while they wouldn’t be caught dead in McDonald’s. In fact, the disdain of millennials for McDonald’s is frequently noted as a prime reason the fast food giant has struggled mightily of late.

But guess what? Even though survey data shows that millennials prefer fast-casual over fast food, and even though some stats indicate millennial visits to fast food establishments are falling, younger consumers are far more likely to dine at McDonald’s than at Chipotle, Panera Bread, and other fast-casual restaurants.

Last summer, a Wall Street Journal article pointed out that millennials are increasingly turning away from McDonald’s in favor of fast casual. Yet a chart in the story shows that roughly 75% of millennials said they go to McDonald’s at least once a month, while only 20% to 25% of millennials visit a fast-casual restaurant of any kind that frequently. Similarly, data collected by Morgan Stanley cited in a recent Business Insider post shows that millennials not only eat at McDonald’s more than at any other restaurant chain, but that they’re just as likely to go to McDonald’s as Gen Xers and more likely to dine there than Boomers.

At the same time, McDonald’s was the restaurant brand that millennials would least likely recommend publicly to others, with Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, and Jack in the Box also coming in toward the bottom in the spectrum of what millennials find worthy of their endorsements. What it looks like, then, is that millennials are fast food regulars, but they’re ashamed about it.

2. Millennials Want to Live in Cities, Not Suburbs
Another broad generalization about millennials is that they prefer urban settings, where they can walk or take the bus, subway, or Uber virtually anywhere they need to go. There are some facts to back this up. According to an October 2014 White House report, millennials were the most likely group to move into mid-size cities, and the number of young people living in such cities was 5% higher compared with 30 years prior. The apparent preference for cities has been pointed to as a reason why Costco isn’t big with millennials, who seem to not live close enough to the warehouse retailer’s suburban locations to justify a membership, nor do their apartments have space for Costco’s bulk-size merchandise.

But just because the percentage of young people living in cities has been inching up doesn’t mean that the majority actually steer clear of the suburbs. Five Thirty Eight recently took a deep dive into Census data, which shows that in 2014 people in their 20s moving out of cities and into suburbs far outnumber those going in the opposite direction. In the long run, the suburbs seem the overwhelming choice for settling down, with roughly two-thirds of millennial home buyers saying they prefer suburban locations and only 10% wanting to be in the city. It’s true that a smaller percentage of 20-somethings are moving to the suburbs compared with generations ago, but much of the reason why this is so is that millennials are getting married and having children later in life.

3. Millennials Don’t Want to Own Homes
Closely related to the theory that millennials like cities over suburbs is the idea that they like renting rather than owning. That goes not only for where they live, but also what they wear, what they drive, and more.

In terms of homes, the trope that millennials simply aren’t into ownership just isn’t true. Surveys show that the vast majority of millennials do, in fact, want to own homes. It’s just that, at least up until recently, monster student loans, a bad jobs market, the memory of their parents’ home being underwater, and/or their delayed entry into the world of marriage and parenthood have made homeownership less attractive or impossible.

What’s more, circumstances appear to be changing, and many more millennials are actually becoming homeowners. Bloomberg News noted that millennials constituted 32% of home buyers in 2014, up from 28% from 2012, making them the largest demographic in the market. Soaring rents, among other factors, have nudged millennials into seeing ownership as a more sensible option. Surveys show that 5.2 million renters expect to a buy a home this year, up from 4.2 million in 2014. Since young people represent a high portion of renters, we can expect the idea that millennials don’t want to own homes to be increasingly exposed as a myth.

4. Millennials Hate Cars
Cars are just not cool. They’re bad for the environment, they cost too much, and, in an era when Uber is readily available and socializing online is arguably more important than socializing in person, having a car doesn’t seem all that necessary. Certainly not as necessary as a smartphone or broadband. Indeed, the idea that millennials could possibly not care about owning cars is one that has puzzled automakers, especially those in the car-crazed Baby Boom generation.

In many cases, the car industry has disregarded the concept, claiming that the economy rather than consumer interest is why fewer young people were buying cars. Whatever the case, the numbers show that the majority of millennials will own cars, regardless of whether they love them as much as their parents did when they were in their teens and 20s. According to Deloitte’s 2014 Gen Y Consumer Study, more than three-quarters of millennials plan on purchasing or leasing a car over the next five years, and 64% of millennials say they “love” their cars. Sales figures are reflecting the sentiment; in the first half of 2014, millennials outnumbered Gen X for the first time ever in terms of new car purchases.

5. Millennials Have a Different Attitude About Work
As millennials entered the workforce and have become a more common presence in offices around the world, much attention has been focused on the unorthodox things that young people supposedly care more about than their older colleagues. Millennials, surveys and anecdotal evidence have shown, want to be able to wear jeans and have flexible work hours to greater degrees than Gen X and Boomers. Young people also want to be more collaborative, demand more feedback, and are less motivated by money than older generations.

That’s the broad take on what motivates millennial workers anyway. An IBM study on the matter suggests otherwise, however. “We discovered that Millennials want many of the same things their older colleagues do,” researchers state. There may be different preferences on smaller issues—like, say, the importance of being able to dress casually on the job—but when it comes to overarching work goals achieved in the long run, millennials are nearly identical to their more experienced colleagues: “They want financial security and seniority just as much as Gen X and Baby Boomers, and all three generations want to work with a diverse group of people.”

What’s more, IBM researchers say, millennials do indeed care about making more money at work, and that, despite their reputation as frequent “job hoppers,” they jump ship to other companies about as often as other generations, and their motivations are essentially the same: “When Millennials change jobs, they do so for much the same reasons as Gen X and Baby Boomers. More than 40 percent of all respondents say they would change jobs for more money and a more innovative environment.”

TIME Crime

This Woman Didn’t Get Any Bacon In Her Burger So She Shot Up the Drive-Thru

Shaneka Monique Torres looks around the courtroom before being found guilty on all charges related to her shooting a gun into a McDonald's when she failed to get bacon on her burger, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich
Chris Clark—AP Shaneka Monique Torres looks around the courtroom before being found guilty on all charges related to her shooting a gun into a McDonald's when she failed to get bacon on her burger, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich

Thankfully nobody was injured

A Grand Rapids, Mich. woman faces up to seven years in prison after she was convicted of multiple charges Wednesday for firing a bullet into a McDonald’s drive-through when staff forgot to put bacon in her cheeseburger.

Shaneka Monique Torres, 30, ordered a bacon cheeseburger at the McDonald’s on Feb. 10, 2014 but it arrived without bacon. She complained to a manager and was offered a free burger, according to Grand Rapids local news outlet WZZM 13.

At about, Torres and her friend returned to order another bacon cheeseburger. This burger also came without bacon and Torres verbally lashed out at a worker before pulling out her handgun and firing a round into the restaurant. No one was injured.

Torres was arrested at her home about 30 minutes later.

Her defense attorney, John Beason, argued that Torres discharged the weapon by accident and there was no correlation with the bacon-less burgers.

The jury deliberated for one hour and found Torres guilty of carrying a concealed weapon, discharging a firearm into a building and felony use of a firearm.

She will be sentenced on April 21.

Read next: California Woman Arrested for Trying to Steal Two Babies, Leading to One Death

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MONEY Food & Drink

10 Cult-Favorite Foods Brought Back from the Dead by Popular Demand

Don't give up hope if some heartless corporate type decides to kill off your favorite soda, cereal, or fast food indulgence. It'll surely make a return to the marketplace if popular demand, well, demands it.

When Burger King brought back chicken fries to its menu last summer, the company explained that the decision was made due to a widespread campaign of fast food fanatics clamoring for their return via online petitions and social media. “Guest outcries reached a point where they could no longer be ignored,” reads a BK statement in August, which also noted that chicken fries, which hadn’t been available since 2012, would be back on menus nationally only for a limited time.

Apparently, while the “limited time” window seems to suffice for the Shamrock Shakes, McRibs, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes of the fast food world, a merely temporary return for chicken fries just didn’t cut it. This week, BK announced that the breaded and fried chicken strips were becoming a permanent part of the menu, to the delight of the fanatical tweeting masses.

Not everyone is happy about the return of chicken fries. Among the disappointed are those who are passionate about bringing back some other food or drink item they’ve craved desperately since it disappeared. For instance, the Beefy Crunchy Movement Facebook page, which has over 16,000 likes, voiced disgust that BK listened to its fans by making chicken fries permanent, yet Taco Bell has ignored the passionate calls for the return of the burrito featuring Flamin’ Hot Fritos inside. The Beefy Crunch Burrito was brought back by popular demand in 2013, but it disappeared quickly and hasn’t been seen in nearly two years.

Other Taco Bell fans have demanded the return of the extra-spicy Volcano Menu, while still other fast food customers have focused their passion on bringing back items ranging from McDonald’s hot mustard sauce to KFC Chicken Little sandwiches. Yes, KFC currently has Chicken Littles on the menu, but the supposedly “new and improved” version is quite different from the one sold decades ago, and critics have bashed the new item as little more than a “misappropriation of the Chicken Little’s good name.”

What’s interesting—and quite revelatory about human nature and our most passionate cravings—is that there’s quite a long history of failed healthy fast food items, yet there doesn’t seem to be much of a movement to bring any of them back to menus. Instead, campaigns to bring back beloved food and drink from the dead overwhelmingly lean toward those heavy in salt, sugar, grease, calories, and caffeine. Here’s a list of cult favorites that disappeared for a while and recently resurfaced after the people have spoken.

  • Burger King Chicken Fries

    Burger King Chicken Fries
    Burger King

    The same week that BK announced the return of chicken fries, word also spread that it was significantly scaling back availability of its once-hyped low-calorie French fries dubbed Satisfries. This juxtaposition seems to get to the heart of why consumers head to fast food establishments in the first place.

  • French Toast Crunch Cereal


    Amid plummeting cereal sales, General Mills recently decided that bringing back French Toast Crunch would be a way to boost business. “We have been overwhelmed by the consumer conversations, requests and passion for the cereal to come back,” a company statement explained of French Toast Crunch, which was sold from 1995 to 2006, and has been back on store shelves as of January. General Mills also periodically plays the nostalgia card by offering Boo Berry, Franken Berry, and other “spooky” cereals around Halloween, sometimes with retro-look packaging.

  • SURGE Soda


    Coca-Cola said that last fall it brought back SURGE, a Mountain Dew-like soda popular in the ’90s, due to a “passionate and persistent community of brand loyalists who have been lobbying … to bring back their favorite drink.” A SURGE Movement Facebook page had 129,000 likes at the time, and it’s now pushed to over 215,000 likes. The initial batch of rereleased SURGE sold out almost immediately.

  • Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

    Neilson Barnard—Getty Images for Wendy's

    The “it” fast food item of 2013 was undeniably the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy’s, which like most new chain restaurant menu products was first introduced as a limited-time purchase. It wasn’t gone for long, however. “You said ‘bring it back.’ So we did,” Wendy’s tweeted to the world last summer, less than a year after the 680-calorie Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger disappeared from menus. “Then you said keep it on the menu.” Indeed, it’s now part of Wendy’s permanent menu.

  • Chocodiles

    Twinkies Chocodile

    At one point, a box of chocolate-covered Twinkies known as Chocodiles was selling for $90 on eBay. That alone should tell you how badly consumers were jonesing for the oversugared sweet that hadn’t been widely available for years. It also explains why the manufacturer, Hostess, brought Chocodiles back last summer. “In the past Chocodiles seemed to be shrouded as much in mystery as in chocolate, inspiring an obsession among fans that was truly the stuff of legends,” William Toler, president and CEO of Hostess Brands, said at the time. “Now, fanatics will once again be able to satisfy their cravings and a new generation will be able to experience the magic for the first time.”

  • McDonald’s Chicken Selects

    Bloomberg—Getty Images

    The recent return of Chicken Selects to McDonald’s menus has been heralded as a potential savior for the fast food giant, which has been suffering from lackluster sales for years. “Although they are back by popular demand, they will only be available for a limited time,” McDonald’s warned. Alas, the return of Chicken Selects was not combined with the national reappearance of what many consider the perfect dipping sauce, hot mustard.

  • Pepsi Made With Real Sugar


    Last summer, PepsiCo rolled out three flavors of Pepsi (regular, vanilla, cherry) sweetened with real sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup. In the past the company has also made and marketed “throwback” versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew, which use real sugar and feature old-school logos on cans, and it recently introduced another soda with real sugar, DEWShine. Have the masses actually been begging for Pepsi and Mountain Dew made with real sugar? It’s not clear they have. But Mexican Coke has been a cult favorite among hipsters for years, supposedly because it uses real cane sugar.

  • Tim Hortons Chocolate Eclair

    Tim Horton's Chocolate eclair
    courtesy of Tim Horton's

    The Canadian donut-and-coffee chain asked customers which “classic” menu item of yore they’d like to see return in 2014 to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, and the top vote-getter, with 40%, was chocolate éclair. The éclair won out even though one Toronto Star reviewer called the whipped cream “fake and disgustingly sweet.”

  • Olive Garden Braised Beef and Tortelloni

    courtesy of Olive Garden

    Casual sit-down dining chains have steadily been losing business to fast-casual superstars like Chipotle and Panera Bread. So when a critical mass of Olive Garden customers mounted a social rallying cry to put the braised beef and tortelloni entrée back on menus, the company listened. It returned to Olive Garden last spring, to the rejoicing of many on the restaurant brand’s Facebook page.

  • Miller Lite (Packaging)

    Scott Boehm—AP

    Miller Lite never went away. Like many macro brews, Lite sales have dropped steadily, coinciding with the rise of craft beer. But Lite has never been taken off the market. What’s it doing in this list then? One thing about Miller Lite has been brought back from the past—for about a year now it’s been sold in vintage-looking cans featuring the original logo—and the old-school approach has yielded greatly improved sales. Another old-school beer, Coors Banquet, has similarly been able to drum up sales because of it’s been packaged in throwback “stubby” bottles that some drinkers can’t seem to resist.

MONEY Advertising

At Last, You Can Buy Wallpaper and Sheets with Big Macs on Them

Big Mac sheet set
courtesy of While visions of hamburgers dance in your head...

Call it fast (food) fashion. McDonald's just launched a home goods and apparel collection featuring oversized Big Macs on sheets, thermal underwear, wallpaper—even pet clothing.

Perhaps even stranger than the existence of the new Big Mac Shop collection is the fact that sales are currently limited to one country: Sweden.

The collection was introduced on Tuesday at a “McWalk” fashion show in Stockholm. The range of products includes Big Mac bedding, Big Mac thermal underwear, and Big Mac wallpaper, priced at the equivalent of about $47, $58, and $54, respectively. All items feature the same picture-perfect image of a Big Mac that you only see in ads—never in the restaurant when you buy one—repeated hypnotically over and over.

Yes, this has all the makings of an April Fools gag. But it’s not April 1 yet. And based on the reporting of AdAge and AdWeek, among others, these are indeed actual products that are actually for sale, in Sweden at least. (Alas, we tried to make a purchase on the site but were shot down with the message that delivery was not available to the U.S.)

AdWeek clarified that while the Big Mac collection wasn’t a joke, it was “part of a global day of McDonald’s hijinks” called imlovinit24 that took place earlier this week. The campaign called for 24 marketing stunts in 24 cities around the world, including a huge Big Mac jigsaw puzzle in Madrid and a tollbooth in Manila that dispensed free McDonald’s food to drivers. Profits from Big Mac Shop sales will be donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

At last check, bedding, thermals, and wallpaper from the collection were still available to interested Swedes, but it appears as if the collection’s rubber boots, raincoats, and dog clothing are already sold out.

MONEY Fast Food

Chicken-Biscuit Tacos for Breakfast! Taco Bell Jabs McDonald’s With Snarky Ad

Taco Bell, which is replacing its waffle taco on its breakfast menu, has loaded a new ad with totalitarian clowns.

MONEY Food & Drink

Starbucks Backtracks on ‘Race Together’ Campaign

Starbucks will no longer add the phrase '#racetogether' on its coffee cups after facing a backlash.

TIME Food & Drinks

You Can Now Buy Kit-Kat Bar Sandwiches in Japan Because Why Not

First Kitchen

Another day, another bizarre fast food hybrid

Japan — home to the the mayonnaise pizza and the macaroni, shrimp and white sauce burger — has unveiled its latest feat of bizarre fast food fusion.

Behold: the Kit-Kat bar sandwich. The creation became available last week for a mere 220 yen ($1.81) from the chain First Kitchen.

And in case you needed a closer look:

While we love the candy bar, it looks somewhat less tempting when garnished with whipped cream and orange peel between two slices of white bread. A Twix sandwich, on the other hand…

Read next: 5 Fast Food Restaurant Meals That Are Healthier Than a Salad

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TIME Food & Drink

5 Fast Food Restaurant Meals That Are Healthier Than a Salad

Pedestrians enter a Chipotle Mexican Grill  in Martinez, California, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Chipotle Mexican Grill is expected to release earnings figures on Feb 3. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
David Paul Morris—Getty Images/© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Pedestrians enter a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Martinez, California on Feb. 2, 2015.

Chew the right thing

Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of nine books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.

Salads seem safe when you’re dining out, but BEWARE. Some restaurant salads have a thousand calories… or more! Here are a few to avoid, plus better-for-you alternatives:

At Chipotle Mexican Grill

Salad Shock: Salad with Chicken and Toppings
You’re at Chipotle and eating a SALAD? This basically makes you a Zen master. A salad with chicken, no less — so virtuous. Throw on some fajita veggies and black beans — you’re so healthy! Corn salsa, why not? Cheese? You’ve earned it by not ordering a burrito. Guacamole? Duh. Vinaigrette? Well, it IS a salad. Guess what, health nut? That salad now totals 1,010 calories and 64.5g fat.

Better Bet: Soft Corn Tacos with Sofritas, Veggies, and Salsa
Let’s try again. The great thing about tacos is that you’re kind of restricted to the amount of toppings you can fit into a few small tortillas. Pick the tofu-based sofritas, add on those fajita veggies, and top with tomatillo-red chili salsa. Only 400 calories for 3 tacos, plus 12.5g fiber and 13g protein!

MORE 13 Ways to Stop Drinking Soda for Good

At California Pizza Kitchen

Salad Shock: Caramelized Peach Salad with Grilled Shrimp
You walk into CPK with reserve of steel — you’re not ordering a pizza, no matter how tempting they look. Good thing there are a bunch of yummy salads on the menu… STOP! As virtuous and delicious as this fruit-topped option sounds, the full order with dressing is a serious calorie-fest with 960 calories and 63g fat. Yeesh!

Better Bet: Shrimp Scampi Zucchini Fettuccine
Look again — those shrimp are sitting on a bed of zucchini ribbons! At 470 calories and 24g fat, this is one of the best options on the menu. (P.S. If you like zucchini “noodles,” check this out.)

At Applebee’s

Salad Shock: Oriental Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken
This salad is so simple — how can it be trouble? There’s no cheese or bacon, and choosing grilled chicken rather than crispy chicken saves you 110 calories and 17g fat. Sadly, a regular-sized salad with dressing still has 1,290 calories and 82g fat! The Oriental Dressing alone has 250 calories and 22g fat. ACK.

Better Bet: Napa Chicken & Portobellos
Now here’s a really satisfying plate. Chicken smothered in sauce, mushrooms, and onion, alongside sautéed veggies and crispy potatoes — all for just 500 calories and 16g fat? Sold! Make our salad swap at home, and get this from the ‘Bee’s.

MORE Working Out and Still Not Losing Weight? Here Are 7 Reasons Why

At Chili’s

Salad Shock: Quesadilla Explosion Salad
The silly item has been a scourge on my radar for years. Yeah, it seems like a quesadilla wouldn’t be so bad if it comes in salad form… But it’s basically an entire quesadilla sitting next to a salad. How does it stack up? 1,430 calories and 96g fat. Noooooope.

Better Bet: 6 oz. Sirloin with Grilled Avocado
You could get A STEAK with AVOCADO for FAR fewer calories and fat grams than that silly salad. Topped with a citrus-chile sauce, the steak also comes with garlic roasted tomatoes and a Fresco side salad for 410 calories and 20g fat. BRILLIANT.

At Cheesecake Factory

Salad Shock: Caesar Salad with Chicken
How bad could a pile of lettuce with some chicken really be? MAYDAY! CODE RED. This salad has 1,550 calories in it! That’s higher than an order of the Four Cheese Pasta — CRAZYPANTS. (But I wouldn’t suggest ordering the Four Cheese Pasta either — it has a whopping 1,270 calories.)

Better bet: SkinnyLicious Hamburger
What’s your reward for suffering the indignity of saying the word “SkinnyLicious” out loud? A burger on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles, with a smear of mayo, salad on the side. For just 560 calories. Worth it.

‘Til next time… Chew the right thing!

This article originally appeared on

Read next: The 10 Most Filling Foods for Weight Loss

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

How Los Angeles Tried—and Failed—to Curb Obesity

Getty Images

A study finds that an L.A. law to cut back on fast food may not have worked

A Los Angeles law meant to improve obesity rates didn’t work out as planned, a new study shows.

In 2008, South Los Angeles passed an ordinance that restricted the opening or expansion of new stand-alone fast food restaurants, in hopes of making residents healthier. However, new research published in the journal Social Science & Medicine reveals that little happened to the diets and obesity rates of people living in the region.

The researchers looked at both the number of food outlets opening in the city, as well as data on neighborhood eating habits and weight. The number of residents who were overweight or obese increased from 2007 to 2012—including in South Los Angeles. Only sugary drink consumption dropped.

“Environmental change is slow, so we should not expect dramatic immediate effects,” the study authors write. But they acknowledge another explanation, too: that the ordinance didn’t target the outlets it should have. The researchers report that South Los Angeles is characterized by smaller food outlets or convenience stores rather than typical fast-food chains. Food outlets that were added since the ordinance looked similar to the outlets that were already there, the authors say.

“It would seem unlikely that changes in the food environment due to the regulation could have had a meaningful impact on dietary choices in South LA,” says study author Roland Sturm, a senior economist at the non-profit research organization RAND.

But the study authors note that in the long run, the fast-food ban could help effect change in a more symbolic way: by helping to shift the mindset of how residents of the area approach food.

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