Jared Fogle, a/k/a the Subway Guy, came to town the other day on a mission. This is the fellow who made a name for himself by shedding 245 of his 425 pounds on a fast-food diet in only a year. His amazing weight-loss, along with health warnings about Americans overstuffing themselves, have been revolutionizing the fast-food business.
Traditionally, fast-food features burgers garnished with bacon, cheese, and sauces. Plumped up with sides of fries and onion rings, regular doses virtually guarantee girth.
Jared Fogle's favorite stuffing was pizza. He ate it until he could barely walk. He could have been a poster boy for the perils of poor nutrition, diets out of balance, and appetite gone amok. Fortuitously he lived next to a sandwich shop with vegetarian and low fat offerings. No fries available.
It was in 1998 that Mr. Fogle quietly decided to shrink his 60-inch waist. In the intervening years other fast-food companies, responding to market pressures and fusillades from the health and nutrition lobbies, have expanded their offerings. They've kept faith with their greasy traditions. But they've also enlarged their menus to include the likes of grilled chicken and fresh salads - all at reasonable prices.
The pity is that not enough Americans have been weaned away from the more fattening items.
The lesson of the Subway Guy is not in the positive publicity he offers a sandwich chain, one it never imagined itself. Nor does it lie in a particular brand of fast-food. Rather it lies in the possibility of getting a grip and finding a nutritious diet that avoids one of America's biggest killers: obesity.
His message is one too few Americans think they have to learn.