Veggies are great, but a burger's right around the corner

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Is the convenience of the drive-thru playing a part in the obesity epidemic? According to the CDC, many Arkansans live less than a mile from a fast food restaurant, but 10 miles from a sizeable grocery store.

Eating healthy is not always easy, and when you're surrounded by temptations it's even worse. But is the availability of fast food, really to blame for the struggle with obesity?

"You drive by and about 10 feet apart there's a fast food restaurant," said Morgan Holt from Jonesboro.

Fast food has taken the matter of convenience to a whole new level. According the Centers for Disease Control, many Arkansans live closer to a fast food restaurant than the nearest considerable size grocery store.

"It's quicker to run through and pay five dollars and get something to eat real fast. It's better than having to go to the grocery store, buy food, go home, and cook it. It wastes an hour," said Holt.

While the CDC reports roughly 30% of Arkansans are considered obese, some argue it's not about where you eat, it's what you eat.

"I think it's a mistake to assume that you cannot eat well and eat healthy if you eat fast food," said Mary Hartwig, who is a nurse practitioner. While fast food often brings more temptation, Hartwig says many fast food chains have made a strong effort to provide healthier food choices.  "You can choose to have a salad instead of fries, you can have oatmeal and have fruit with it," said Hartwig.

But when it comes to making a decision between an apple and a burger, which one trumps the other? "My wife eats a lot of salads when we go to fast food places, but I eat a sandwich. I'm a sandwich guy," said Loren Hurst from Jonesboro.

But if you do decide to indulge in that cheeseburger, Hartwig says it's still important to take into account your day-by-day eating.  "If you just eat just a hundred calories a day more than you need, which isn't very much, in a year you'll gain 10 pounds," said Hartwig.

So if you do decide to go with fast food, Hartwig suggests you ask for a nutrition guide with calories, number of fat grams, and other nutritional facts.

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