Tri-Cities: The fast food capital of the state

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Another title for Tri-Cities.. Fast food capital of the state. We are the forth biggest metro-area in Washington, and with a quarter million residents, fast food is dense enough to feed us all.

"There's a ton of it. And it's everywhere. On every corner. Everywhere you go." Mellanie Dickinson knows there's no shortage of fast food joints in the Tri-Cities.

"McDonald's, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box," she says.

According to the state, Washington has eight fast-food restaurants for every 100,000 people. That would mean we'd have roughly 20-fast food restaurants here. But in fact, we have three-times that, making the Tri-Cities was named the drive-thru mecca of our state.

Here on a busy road like Columbia Center Blvd, almost every restaurant is considered fast food. And KEPR counted over ten fast food restaurants just in one block here on Court Street in Pasco. Doctors say these habits can quickly lead to heart disease and obesity.

Dr. Amy Person tells KEPR, "With the high rate of obesity in the Tri-Cities, I guess I'm not surprised."

But most of us were surprised when the Tri-Cities was ranked the 11th fattest metro area in the nation. It seemed those titles were more fit for another part of the country.

Mellanie admits, the convenience is what pulls her in. She says, "It's fast, it's quick.. My kids are in sports, so on the way home it's the fastest thing."

But there are ways to make smart choices. Just recently, McDonald's started listing calorie counts on menu boards.

Dr. Person explains, "If you are going to eat at fast food, try to make a selection that will be a little bit lower fat."

But Mellanie knows, that can still be difficult. She says, "If it's fast food it's all gonna be unhealthy, so why not enjoy it when you are ordering."

The State Department of Health found in a yearly survey about a fifth of meals in America were eaten on the road last year.