If you know me well, you know how I feel about fast food. My basic take on it is that it is terrible, but sometimes necessary. As someone who travels a lot, I get that sometimes you can't get anything better than fast food. If its a McDonald's burger versus a bag of M&Ms, I'm going for the burger. Also, I regularly suffered from soju hangovers in Korea- for which the only cures are ample time or fast food. However, I don't eat it often. For clarification, I don't put Chipotle or Panera in the same category as McD's or BK, but I do understand that they are loosely related.
When you go through the drive-thru, you don't get out of your car. There is little-to-no risk of being spotted walking into or standing in line at one of these grease traps. The person at the window might recognize you if you're a regular, but they're not going to tell anyone about your eating habits. It makes it so much easier for the public to "undercover" eat.
Also, something about not getting up and walking in almost makes you feel as if you're not actually doing it. Sounds weird, but bear with me here. When you make the decision to pull into the parking lot, park your car, get out, walk in, wait in line, make an order, pay, wait, and then consume; that is NINE conscious decisions you have to make. Additionally, you have the full menu laid out for viewing while you wait, there will be a calorie chart somewhere that you probably take notice of, and you can smell all the oil and fryers going at full blast. You've made several choices, despite the negative stimuli like the smell and the realization that you're about to put pack 300 calories of deep fried potatoes or Grade D beef. When you get up and go into the "restaurant" you're choosing to ignore or be ok with the decision you're making to consume something that is/can be unhealthy.
You don't have that same stimuli when you decide to go through the drive-thru. The smells aren't as strong, the menu is harder to see, and there is no calorie list. And moreover, you eat that food away from the restaurant where you're not continually being exposed to those same gross smells and you can't look around and see people feeding large children Big Macs.
Like I have said, I have made that decision to eat fast food.... but I will ALWAYS go in. I need that little dose of reality when I know I'm making (for me) a bad choice.
Not only are you going for fast food, but you're so sedentary that you can't be bothered to get out of your car to go in an get it. Yes, some people are in a rush and need something quick... but you know how that can be avoided? Pack a lunch. I go almost nowhere without a "just in case" snack in my bag. Its usually a Larabar (very few ingredients-- ALL of which are things I recognize), but sometimes a fruit or some baby carrots or cut peppers. I get that there are days where surprise busy-ness happens... and sometimes you just need to grab BK for the kids while on the road. For those situations, the drive-thru is an ok option (not the best, but definitely understandable).
I don't as much fault the patrons as I do the situation (does that make sense?). The convenience of the drive-thru is hard to resist. Fast food is designed to taste good and keep us wanting more. The drive-thru allows us to get that addictive substance without any real energy expenditure. It's just an unfortunate mechanism
I find places like Dunkin Donuts and other similar places to be a little bit different. Yes, they have donuts and other dangerous menu options, but for the mot part people are only rushing to get their morning coffee on the way to work. Ok. That's an ok option. Drive-thru liquor stores; awesome. Drive-thru Panera? Nearing dangerous territory, but not quite there yet. YES their sodium levels are so high my mouth hurts after I eat there, but that's my own damn fault for eating a sandwich and bag of chips like a hungry anaconda.
Slap on the wrist
Shame on the US food system for making fast food so cheap and so available.... and allowing drive-thru windows. I realize that id the government was to step in and do whats right by making drive-thrus illegal, there would be a huge uproar. Unfortunately, fast food isn't going anywhere. However, I wish it was a little less easy for us to procure it. The temptation of a drive-thru is almost too much to resist on the road-- even for someone like me who tries to make healthy decisions.