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Gimme A Burger, Hold Your Concern

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You can find social responsibility at lots of places, but you need to go to a specialist for crispy fries and juicy burgers. Perhaps that explains why consumers are disinclined to view fast-food companies as the villains behind Americans' unhealthy eating habits. In a nationwide survey on corporate responsibility, conducted for communications agency Public New York by research firm Hall & Partners, 65 percent of respondents agreed that "It is the responsibility of the individual, not the fast-food companies, to eat responsibly." And surprisingly few (30 percent) said the fast feeders "have contributed to our nation's obesity problem." A similarly modest number (28 percent) said the companies "have a responsibility to offer food that is nutritious as well as tasting good." It's certainly not as if people think fast-food companies are striving to become responsible stewards of the national diet: A mere 17 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, "Now more than ever, fast-food companies are beginning to recognize their responsibility in what Americans eat." Meanwhile, despite the diversification of the fast-food industry from its burger-and-fries origins, people are still more likely to go out for fast burgers than for other sorts of fast fare (see the chart). Just 26 percent said they go to a fast-burger joint less often than once a month, vs. 51 percent saying the same of fast-chicken restaurants.