Travel along a two-block stretch of Central Avenue in Prince George's County, and you'll find a staggering 11 fast-food restaurants.
For community activist Arthur Turner and state Sen. David C. Harrington (D-Prince George's), the strip is evidence of the proliferation of burger joints and Chinese takeouts in the county, especially in poorer, inner Capital Beltway communities.
Pointing to studies that rank Prince George's residents among the least healthy in Maryland, Turner and Harrington want to limit new fast-food restaurants in the county, a far stricter approach than what has been enacted in such places as New York City and Montgomery County, which banned the use of trans fats in those establishments...
"Our county is inundated with unhealthy food choices," Turner said. "In some areas, if someone wants a healthy choice, there are no options. We want healthy options in our community."
Opponents of such efforts say that what people eat is a matter of personal choice and that it should be up to the free market to determine which restaurant goes where...
Turner said that his group identified Panera Bread and Chipotle as preferable alternatives to a fast-food burger restaurant and that he plans to seek similar compromises with other developers.
Given the weak correlation between dieting and long-term weight loss, and the very, very weak correlation between dieting and the marginal difference between Chipotle and McDonald's, basically all that we have here are politicians and activists remaking the community to suit their personal tastes, as if Prince George's County were just SimCity with slightly cooler graphics.
My prediction: This is a very good deal for any fast food restaurant that gets in before the ban.