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Survey Finds 75% of Santee Fast Food Eateries Not 'Catering to Healthy Living'

Santee Healthy Food Survey gives a glance at how fast food outlets cater healthy food to their customers.

The Santee Health Network recently conducted a survey of a selection of fast food eateries in the heart of Santee which found that 75 percent don't "cater to healthy living."

To qualify as "catering to healthy living," 65 percent or more of foods on menu needed to be considered healthful. Foods that qualified as "healthful" indcluded salads, vegetables without dressing, whole wheat, grilled chicken, fruit, and similar alternatives to the usual fast food fare.

"Although the majority of eateries in this area did offer healthy alternatives, the healthy foods were definitely the minority, with six times the amount of advertising used on unhealthy food as healthful food," said Santee Health Network founder Steve Lauria.

The survey was based on a selection of 20 eateries along Mission Gorge Road between Carlton Hills Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue, not including sit-down restaurants. The eateries included chains and independent Mexican food shops, delis, Chinese, frozen yogurt, cafes, and more.

According to Lauria, examples of eateries that qualified at "catering to healthful living" included Jamba Juice and Subway.

The goal of the survey is to increase Santee residents’ access to healthy foods and awareness of food options around them.

At the fast food restaurants, volunteers examined the advertising displays and marketing practices, healthy options available and whether nutrition information was readily available.

"It seems the trend in Santee, as of late, is to promote the consumption of less than healthful foods," said Lauria.

Along the route that was surveyed, new fast food outlets opening include In-N-Out and Chick Fil A.

"I would like to see more healthy choices in Santee, which would enable folks to eat better and more conveniently," said Lauria.

Stats from the survey:

  • 50 percent advertised healthy foods on the outside of the building, but only averaged 1.8 healthy foods compared to 10.8 unhealthful foods.
  • 95 percent offered some sort of healthful food/drink options, 6 healthful food items compared to 26 unhealthful food options.
  • 40 percent offered a healthful kids meal option.

Also read: 7 Disturbing Trends in Junk Food Advertising to Children

Suzie Siebern December 04, 2012 at 03:59 AM
I, for one really hope this survey leads to better food choices for people who don't want to eat crap fast food. All these new restaurants going in around town and they all cater to people who want to eat meat and/or BBQ. We don't need laws to tell people they can't eat the stuff they want to but can we have some balance? I realized we live in Santee and it caters to meat eaters but I also pay taxes here and would love to spend my money in Santee rather than having to leave the city to find some diversity in food. Yeah, we recently got a "health food" store and we have 2 gyms and a nice park here now but we just got 4-5 new meat-based restaurants in the past couple of months. Where's the balance?!
mike December 04, 2012 at 04:04 AM
recently we got a health food store? We've had Boney's/Henry's/Sprout's since it took over Miller's Outpost. If you're referring to Fresh N Easy you haven't been in there. It's like Vons meets 7-11. Santee has a Farmer's Market once a week where you can get locally grown produce as well.
Keith December 04, 2012 at 04:20 AM
CFA offers healthy lifestyle options with 10 menu items with 10 or fewer grams of fat. Chick-fil-A cooks in 100 percent refined peanut oil which is naturally trans-fat and cholesterol free. In fact, the entire menu is free of trans fat. Try the chargrilled-chicken sandwich on whole grain bread, with a fruit cup and low-fat milk. The total meal is only 430 calories. Chargrilled chicken sandwich (290), fruit cup (50), low-fat milk (90). They have salads, too!
Santee Health Network December 04, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Just to clarify- The purpose of this survey was to compare how many healthy choices were available at these eateries compared to less than healthy choices. We also wanted to see how the healthy alternatives were being promoted, compared to say, burgers, fries, etc. We are not trying to criticize anyone for the choices that they make. We are just trying to make people aware, who aren't already aware that there are healthy alternatives available. Wouldn't most people rather be healthy than unhealthy?
Jim Minton December 07, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I don't go to a fast food place for a "healthy meal". People in Santee or anywhere else in San Diego county go to a fast food place for something fast or in other words, something for the gut. You feel guilty, don't go to a place that has lots of calories. Most people who go to fast food places really don't count calories or and that is exactly what a fast food wants you to do! Go to the grocery store and get a salad.. geesh!

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