Eat, drink, but listen up

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How many times have you had a soda, eaten a packet of chips or grabbed a donut and thought, “It’s just this once,” or, “It’s not going to kill me,” or, “There’s no other option, really”?

According to Jester City Limits and Jester City Market sales reports, all four of those items were among the top 20 best-selling items in Jester in October 2012. In that month alone, customers bought a total of 10,703 cookies, 13,310 Krispy Kreme donuts, 9,082 packets of chips (not including French fries) and 3,451 sodas just at Jester. Add in 10,734 burgers, 7,791 orders of fries and 8,357 ham sausages and you have a total of 48,012 unhealthy foods in one month  — almost enough to feed every single student at UT.

That’s a lot of junk food, particularly for a campus that’s often cited as one of the healthiest in the country. In fact, according to a 2012 report by health and fitness news site Greatist, UT is the nation’s seventh healthiest university.

So, why don’t the sales report data support this ranking? And how can we discourage students from buying so much junk food? Perhaps acknowledging how quickly these calories add up is a good place to start. Regardless of the availability of health items sold at places like JCL and Kin’s Market, it’s ultimately up to students to make responsible choices when grabbing a bite to eat on campus.

Krispy Kreme donuts are one of the most popular unhealthy foods sold at campus eateries. Each Krispy Kreme plain sugar donut has 190 calories, over 50 of which are calories from fat. That’s 11 grams of fat per donut — five grams of which come from saturated fat. And the 13,310 JCL and JCM donuts purchased in October 2012 pack a grand total of 146,410 grams of fat. That’s over 322 pounds of fat. Since fat is less dense than water and there are eight pounds of water to a gallon, that’s 40.25 gallons of fat, the equivalent of 40 milk jugs of liquid fat. Think of that next time you’re about to buy a seemingly innocuous fried donut.

Speaking of liquid calories, students would do well to remember that sugary drinks are the greatest source of calories in the American diet, as they provide more than 7 percent of daily calories on average  according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In fact, a recent study by Harvard University researchers links sugary drinks to 180,000 deaths a year worldwide.

The worst part about these food items is that they lack nutritional value.  Food is fuel. The least we all deserve from our food is that it fills us up — and that’s something that donuts, chips, sodas and other popular junk foods don’t do.

So next time you reach for that donut in JCL or that bag of chips at Kin’s Market, stop and think — and then reach for a shiny red apple instead.

Malik is a Plan II and business honors program freshman from Austin.