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Analysis of “The Trouble with Fries” Essay

Malcolm Gladwell’s article “The Trouble with Fries” is about a very invasive topic. Fast Food is killing us. Can it be fixed? Although his thesis statement isn’t exactly clear, he effectively uses evidence to convince his audience that a nutrition movement is needed especially for fast food. By discussing many factors with supporting evidence that is factual he shows why fast food is struggling to have a nutrition movement. Malcolm Gladwell uses some very shocking facts about French fries and how unhealthy they are for the body. He states the average American eats about thirty pounds of French fries a year.

In 1990, health concerns arose about using animal-based cooking oil to deep fry them. This caused major fast-food houses to switch to deep frying in vegetable oil. Gladwell then proves this change to be even unhealthier. Switching to vegetable oil means going from saturated fat to trans-fat, this makes the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol uncontrollable. Vegetable oil becomes a trans-fat because it has to go through hydrogenation to become suitable for deep frying. According to a study Gladwell uses, for every 5% increase in the amount of saturated fats that a woman consumes, her risk of heart disease increases by 17%.

But only a 2% increase in trans-fat will increase her heart disease risk by 93%. This study was designed by Walter Willett who also states that the consumption of trans-fat in the United States probably causes about 30,000 premature deaths each year. This evidence used by Gladwell is very persuasive in the matter that an actual nutrition movement is needed. Gladwell discusses an alternative healthier way to deep fry French fries which shows great strength in his argument. The much healthier way of deep-frying French fries is by using Olestra, Malcolm Gladwell discusses.

Olestra is a fat substitute that cannot be absorbed by the body. Frito-Lay’s no-fat Wow! chips are made with a version of Olestra. The FDA won’t approved the alternate healthier way of deep-frying French fries by using Olestra because they claim it causes gastrointestinal distress. Proctor and Gamble, the developers of Olestra, performed a test and found that people eating typical amounts of Olestra-based chips don’t have significantly more gastrointestinal problems than people eating normal chips. The FDA is now reviewing this finding. Gladwell used this to point out that it’s entirely

possible, right now, to make a French fry without many dangerous health concerns. The very strong point of this article is that Malcolm Gladwell not only uses French fries in his argument, but beef as well, to prove that it is not only the FDA holding back a nutrition movement. Gladwell uses evidence found by Auburn University. The Auburn Team created what they called the AU Lean beef. This was a beef patty that was ? water, 20% protein, 5% fat and, ? seaweed. They did a blind taste test comparison of AU Lean burgers and traditional McDonald’s burgers. The AU Lean burgers won overall.

AU Lean also won in a test of 100 families trying AU Lean, market beef, and 5% fat beef. What this showed was that people can be fooled into thinking they’re eating a lot of fat when they really aren’t. Shortly after, McDonald’s came out with the McLean Deluxe, using AU Lean beef. It was sold as the healthy choice, therefore people were informed it was healthy and it went off the market. This was great evidence Gladwell used that proved Americans think healthier food won’t taste as well. There was also evidence that children also think the same way as the McDonald’s example of healthier food won’t taste as good.

Gladwell discusses an experiment by Leann Birch on children’s aspects of food based on restriction. The experiment consisted of a large group of children feeding them a big lunch then letting them loose in a room with lots of junk food. Her findings were some children ate none of the junk food while others really chowed down. This showed that the ones who chowed down are restricted from high-fat, high-sugar food so they think in terms of presence and absence of food rather than their hunger. Because they had been told junk food was bad for them, they thought that it had to taste good.

This example really set the light for Gladwell’s argument. It’s not the fact that the food is unhealthy but because of it. Malcolm Gladwell effectively convinced his audience that a nutrition movement is needed. He proves that not only the FDA is holding back an actual nutrition movement but the consumers as well. He supports this by the studies of evidence he provided stating there are healthier ways to fast food. Works Cited Gladwell, Malcolm. “The Trouble with Fries. ” The New Yorker 5 Mar. 2001. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.


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