See No Evil, Smell No Evil,

Fast food, a close friend of college students, especially in this suffering
economy, is frequently blamed for our
nation's high rate of obesity. The LA
Times recently published an article
containing research which links
obesity in students to the proximity of
fast-food restaurants near schools.

The research, which was done by UC Berkeley and Colombia University, studied "body-fat data from more than 1 million California
ninth-graders over an eight-year period." Essentially, there was a 5.2% increase in the amount of obese students at schools where there was fast food located within walking distance.

However, as negative as that portrayal of fast food is, it's college students' close friend for a reason. It is the perfect solution for the combination of hunger, no money, and a hectic schedule. Personally, after enduring a morning of non-stop school, briefly interrupted by a half-hour of driving to work, followed by an exhausting eight-hour shift, which is to be
followed by cleaning and homework,
I'm not as concerned about healthy
versus greasy.

However, it is not uncommon for me to immediately feel guilty after eating fast food, as many people do. It's because, although the long-term effects of a steady diet on this food aren't visible while
eating, they certainly exist. Movies
such as "Supersize Me" and "Fast Food Nation" being produced are evidence that there are enough people concerned about it to become an issue in more mainstream media. So, if we know it's not really worth it, why do we still go?

And people wont be stopping anytime soon. It seems to be quite the opposite with reports such as McDonald's saying in late January that its 2008 net profit went up 80% from a year. In considering the effects of the proximity of fast food to schools,
where the blame belongs is not as plain as black and white. There are genetic predispositions, factors at home, and the matter of selfcontrol.

Take, for example, the now-absent Carl's Jr. that previously resided in the cafeteria. It's harder to deny fast
food's calorie-loaded, grease-coated
food when its aromas are invading the
air around you. It is not hard to believe
that students have chosen Carl's Jr.
over a healthier meal because of its
close presence and cheap prices.

Now we'll soon have Campus Kitchen in place of Carl's Jr., and hopefully their statement "Campus Kitchen meals are great tasting and follow high nutritional standards," holds true. Their website advertises: "Campus Kitchen has been awarded a prestigious Certificate of Recognition from the office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This recognition is
in honor of the 15-year track record
in providing high-quality nutritious
meals to more than 30 Los Angeles

Either way, many argue that no one is forcing anyone to eat either Carl's Jr., Campus Kitchen, Subway, Burger King, or anything else in the school's vicinity.
This is a valid statement, but
incomplete. Whatever choices are more readily available are going to be eaten, despite the deterrence of the negative effects of unhealthy food. This is the same reason people pay $3 for tiny boxes of candy at the theater that are 99 cents elsewhere (Even if you're not supposed to bring outside food, our pockets and purses
can fit some candy.)

The point is that it is there, and it's become harder for people to plan ahead in this nation saturated by the ways of instant gratification.
Ideally, fast food would be healthy,
filling, and cheap, but this impatient
nation has settled for the filling and
cheap part, as other nations do now,
too. It is ultimately up to us, but it
is apparent through common sense
and now this new research that
there most definitely is a connection
between fast food and its proximity
to schools. For college students, it
is easier to get in your car and drive
somewhere possibly better for you.
However, it isn't as easy for younger
students, where it is most important
for healthy habits to form.