Want to lose weight? Step away from the drive-thru.

Last week, the New York Times published an article about fast food diets– the Subway diet made famous by “Jared” and now the Taco Bell diet (indigestion anyone?) being promoted by a Biggest Loser contestant. The article is fairly objective, offering reasons why a fast-food diet might be flawed and recounting success stories from people who lost weight at the drive-thru. However, there are no long-term losers, and the author doesn’t bring up the fact that the low-calorie, low-nutrient diets are unlikely to satisfy dieters. Here is the letter I wrote to the editor in response.

To the Editor:

We cannot trust the food industry to prepare safe, healthy food for us (“Forget Jenny Craig. Hit the Drive-Thru.” Jan. 27). As Ms. Ellin points out in her article, the fast food meals that are low in calories are also high in sodium and lacking in fiber and other nutrients that give us a feeling of satisfaction, making it very unlikely that anyone could stay on such a diet for the long-term. More distressing, fast-food restaurants have a history of serving meals contaminated with dangerous pathogens. Prepared food comes as a trade off. We save time, but we sacrifice a firsthand knowledge of what is in our food, nutrients, and the potential for satisfaction.

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