Is Fast Food to Blame For Childhood Obesity
Has the enjoyable tastes of a double bacon cheeseburger with extra everything, large fry, and a diet coke really had an effect on the obesity epidemic? The choice of picking this meal, which is fast and efficient enough to hit the spot and cure hunger, is caused by having fast food restaurants around every corner. People are so fast paced in today’s society that the number of home cooked meals has decreased tremendously compared to the number of families waiting in line to get their order and eat on the go.
Many people don’t just choose fast food because it is fast and efficient, but they also choose fast food because it is affordable and pleases children. Not only does fast food cause obesity, but obesity contributes too many different diseases that can be long-lasting or have deathly effects. Obesity has been a rising quality in people since the dawn of time. “Since 1980, the rate of obesity has been increasing so steadily that nearly half of all Americans are expected to be obese by 2020” (Anderson) Most overweight people blame their obesity on a genetic deformity that you are born with.
If this is true, then how is it possible for someone to weigh 400 pounds and get down to 230 after healthy eating and exercising? There is a new concept called the “Thrifty gene” people are referring to. According to Isabel Remedios, in 2008, “the gene, which allowed for more fat storage, was thought to be an adaptive mechanism to help man survive periods of famine. ” In the 20th century that is not the case anymore, “starvation is not a big threat” (Remedios).
A passage quoted by Bray stating that ‘The genetic background loads the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger” (Candib 550) indicates that surroundings have completed what genetics has begun. Obesity can also be found in children more these days than at any other time in history. When I was young I remember walking 10 blocks to school twice a day, 5 times a week. I would even walk their on the weekends because there was a huge playground to play on. We rode our bikes, played hide-n-seek with the other neighborhood kids, and when our parents were at work we’d walk or ride our bikes to our friends house 3 streets away.
Also, the limit on television was, if we were lucky, one show a night! Kids these days have replaced walking to school with car rides and big yellow busses. They have also got rid of gym and other physical activities for children to do. Kids would rather play video games and sit around and watch television then do something physically productive with their lives. Also a child’s food intake has increased tremendously. “Thirty years ago, kids ate just one snack a day, whereas now they are trending towards three snacks, resulting in an additional 200 calories a day. One in five school-aged children has up to six snacks a day.
” (LetsMove) If this laziness in childhood continues, the upcoming generation increases our obesity rates through the roof. Someone needs to keep these little tykes active for their own health and life. The environment plays a big role in how society bases its decisions. They choose effective ways like advertising Fast food restaurants on television and radio commercials, or even billboards that are high enough to see a mile away. Our surroundings play a big factor in what we do in life, which also includes what we choose to conquer our hunger with and where. No one sees billboards advertising apples and oranges.
There’s nothing like feeling the craving of hunger crawl through the body and passing a sign that says McDonalds, KFC and Wendy’s at the next exit. The fact that there are these restaurants at every turn on every block completes the deciding factor of where a person will devour his/her next unhealthy meal. Many advertisements are directed toward children because they do not have a sense of nutritional knowledge at such a young age, not to mention a child’s mind is like a sponge. “McDonalds spends $1. 4 billion a year on advertising while the FDA spends only $2 million to educate consumers on the damaging health effects of fast food.
As a result, children see 10,000 fast food advertisements per year” (Cordo). They use products like brand new toys and their own personal kid’s bag that their meal goes in to grab their attention. Then, places like McDonalds and Burger King gives a child a place to play and enjoy themselves while eating their meals, which includes slides and tunnels for kids to trample on. According to Caroline Shaw, a writer from the Journal of New Zealand Medical Association, 2009, there are three main reasons why you should market to children.
One of the big reasons is that “Children and young people are tomorrow’s consumers and companies want to ensure today’s children and youth will continue to buy their products as adults. Therefore, many have an elected interest in ensuring young people are made aware of their brands at a young age. ” Regardless of the fact that children do not understand that these multibillion fast food companies are brainwashing them to believe something so harmful is actually good, children will always be a key target in the advertising world. One main leading factor in the choice of fast food restaurants is net income.
“For the first time in history, the poor are fat and the rich are thin,” (Lorimer). This is contributed by the price rise and decline in certain foods. “In the past 30 years, the price of fruit and vegetables rose much faster than the prices of all other consumer goods in the U. S. ” (Harvard School of Public Health), while processed foods have become the cheap food on the totem pole. Processed foods have become the prime items that are sold in stores all over. (Candib 548). This is why the desire to intake unhealthy processed food has become a reality for low income families.
The location of supermarkets is scarce compared to the location of fast food restaurants. Many towns do not have a supermarket within five miles. On the way to the supermarket it becomes more convenient and time efficient to stop at one of the 10 fast food restaurants a person sees on the way there. Another factor is time. Even if a family has the income to purchase healthy foods, the fact that today’s society is so fast paced, these more fortunate families still just do not have the quality time to put into making a healthy home cooked meal.
It is so much easier after a long stressful day at work to just stop the closest place to home and grab enough food for the entire family to munch on before bed. Although Fast food restaurants are inexpensive and convenient, their food has carefully been planned to taste good. (Mike) “Fast food is generally used to describe quickly prepared, ready-to-eat food. Unfortunately, fast food contains high levels of fat, sugar and sodium and they may be described as energy-dense, nutrient poor food” (Waikato District Health Board). Some people would actually call this food quite toxic. A man by the name of Jonathan N.
Mike, a Doctorate student at the University of New Mexico wrote a paper on Fast Food. In his paper there is a section called “The Mixing Bag”, which talks about how there are “Approximately 10,000 new processed-food products that are introduced every year in the United States. Almost all of them require flavor additives, and about nine out of ten of these products fail. ” He also goes into detail about how the Food and Drug administration have no laws that make Fast Food Restaurants give their information on flavor additives “as long as all the chemicals in them are considered by the agency to be GRAS (“generally
recognized as safe”). He closes this with an example of a strawberry milkshake. His example shows how a strawberry milkshakes is made up of 50 different chemicals. These chemicals may not cause obesity, but they give you the desire to want more from the perfected taste by science. I’ve explained to you factors and reasons as to why people choose fast food restaurants, but not why their unhealthy. Processed food is one of the most popular foods sold in stores and in fast food restaurants, but is this type of food what we really should consume daily?
Processed food is defined by Sheeren Jegtvig as “Foods that have been altered from their natural state, either for safety reasons or for convenience. The methods used include canning, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration and aseptic processing. ” When a company process’s food it is so they can make the food safer, extends their shelf life, or can become very convenient. Many of the foods we intake today can are actually processed foods including Milk, Orange Juice, and White bread. One good thing about processing food is that when food is processed it kills any bad bacteria.
A few of the bad things that happen during processing is that many nutrients are removed, the good nutrients are exchanged for the bad nutrients, they give you more unneeded calories, and remove valued things including fiber. (Jegtvig) Yes, there are good things about processed food, but if the bad overpowers the good how is processed food truly helping Americans. Many people are also getting a bigger intake of calories when they eat out. They make unhealthy decisions when deciding what to order at any fast food restaurant rather than what they would make at home for themselves to eat.
Many people do not understand the effect of calories in a person’s daily life. “Calorie is just the term used to describe the amount of energy a food or drink provides when you eat it. Carbohydrates, fat, protein, and alcohol all provide energy — and this energy is measured in calories. Think of calories as a measurement unit — like inches, pounds, or gallons. You need energy from foods and drinks to fuel your body — for everything from breathing to physical activity. But if your foods provide more energy than you use, your body stores the rest as fat”.
(USDA. ) The average amount of calories a 23 year old woman, who weighs 120 at 5’4” and exercises very little should intake is 1543 calories a day. (Calorie Calculator, 2012) Well if you get a burger (700 calories), fries (300 calories) and a milkshake (530 calories) at McDonalds you are looking at 1,530 calories in one sitting. (McDonalds) If a person followed their calorie intake for the day they would only be able to consume on fast food meal a day and could not eat another meals for the remainder of the day.
“The average American eats three hamburgers and four orders of French fries per week” (Aicardi). If this is true then that leaves them no room for anything healthy, only sodium and salt that contributes to their “soon to be” obesity. Another lying factor of unhealthiness in fast food is the Trans Fat, also known as Trans Fatty Acid. Trans Fat is formed two different ways: naturally and through food processing. Trans fat that is formed naturally is a type that is “produced in the gut of some grazing animals” (USFDA). Because of this you can find little amounts of Trans Fat in products like milk and meat.
Trans Fat that is formed during the processing of food is a type that’s “created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil (a process called hydrogenation) to make it more solid. Partially hydrogenated oils are used by food manufacturers to improve the texture, shelf life and flavor stability of foods” (USFDA). According to the American Heart Association, Americans are only supposed to consume 2 grams of Trans Fat per day; not per meal, or per piece of food, but per day. There is no nutritional value found in Trans Fat. In fact in New York they’ve determined Trans Fat as so unhealthy they passed a petition to ban it in the entire state.
Maybe other states should follow in their footsteps and make our daily intake of fast food a little more on the healthy side. “According to the National Institutes of Health (2004), the large amounts of fat, sugar, salt, and artificial additives in processed food can have a negative effect on long-term health. ” (Cordo) While consuming what has been determined from above as unhealthy food, the citizens of America are becoming obese. In turn, they are gaining unhealthy diseases that can be permanent or deadly. Our food systems are making people sick.
“According to the National Institutes of Health, the unbalanced diet resulting from the consumption of fast food increases the chances of fatal health conditions” (Cordo). Just a few of the disease someone can get from consuming fast food are hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes, strokes and colon cancer. Because of the additives these companies are including with a person’s daily intake of fast foods, the end result for most will not be good. One disease that is long lasting and a slow killer is diabetes. There are many different types of Diabetes that a person can be diagnosed with.
“Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food eaten is turned into glucose (sugar) for the body to use for energy. ” (Health Department of Illinois) One cause to getting this disease is from being overweight. There are two types of diabetes; type 1 and type 2. When someone has Diabetes they have to watch everything they eat. You do not have the luxury of eating what you want, when you what, or however much you want. My cousin has type 1diabetes and was diagnosed when he was two. Now at seven years old he has to wear a pump every day.
He also has to test his blood three or four times daily to make sure his sugar is not too high or not too low. Having this disease is definitely a curse, and far from a blessing. When you have diabetes you have to test your blood like my cousin does. If your sugars are low, you have to “treat” yourself with insulin. “The National Institutes of Health further states that those who eat fast food more than twice a week have a two-fold increase in insulin resistance. ” (Cordo). Cordo also goes on in detail saying that if a person has a high resistance to taking the insulin then the process can be ineffective.
This will cause “abnormal amounts of sugar to circulate in the blood stream”(Cordo). This can also cause heart disease. Statics show that from 1972 and 1995, the diagnosis of diabetes in Americans has doubled, and so has fast food restaurants. Another bad disease someone can have encounter their life because of eating fast food is Coronary Heart Disease, abbreviated as CHD. A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the USA, and coronary heart disease is the most common heart disease killing more than 385,000 people annually.
” CHD is defined by the PubMed Health as “a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. ” A victim of CHD gets this disease because the fat someone intakes create a buildup of plaque in the coronary artery. This artery is the pipes that let blood flow and oxygen go into the heart. When you get a fatty buildup like this it will make your arteries real narrow and this will decrease blood flow, or even stop blood flow to its ending point: the heart. (PubMed Health). There are a few things doctors can prescribe anyone with this dreadful disease to help make it not so painful.
Although there are treatments and medicine someone can take, they are still cursed with coronary heart disease for the remainder of their lives. Was having these diseases a person’s destiny or was it because of no self-control for fast food, and a lack of physical activity in someone’s life? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states the United States spends $108. 9 billion per year from health care services to medications. It would make more sense if instead we spent that money on making better fast food, so in turn fast food consumer chances of heart disease and diabetes would slowly diminish.
While researching this paper there was a lot of intriguing information to be found. It is all a revolving process. The average American eats a cheeseburger because it’s what they can afford thanks to the economy, and in turn gets a deadly disease that now America itself has to assist in helping them pay for that. Fast food has its perks thanks to cheap and quick service, but the end result is only damaging to a person’s life. Instead of making quick decisions we must think of the future repercussions. Children especially should not suffer from the lack of healthy meals and physical activity.
Soon our society will be overrun by obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Those are just a few of the disastrous things to our body that our coming our way. The government needs to “Understand how the food environment influence our weight and then they can help policy makers identify ways to change the environment – and in turn, reduce obesity risks for everyone. ” (Harvard School of Public Health). Obesity and these other diseases will never not be around but it’s time for the government to realize how toxic this food is, and make it healthier, so we can all live a longer and fuller life. Works Cited