Fast Food and Its Ties to Obesity in America
The issue of obesity is a common and wide-spread problem that has a negative effect on the American society. The statistics shows that over one-third of American adults are obese. Obesity causes many health problems and leads to certain medical conditions that are very dangerous. There are several diseases like type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart diseases, and some types of cancer that are considered to be leading "killers” in the society. Fast food is a major cause for America’s obesity problem. It has addictive properties much like tobacco. Along with high-calorie meals, large portions, and cooking technologies these establishments use enticing advertisement tactics that reflect on overall attendance of fast food restaurants, which, in turn, results in gaining excessive weight.
Fast food meals are rich in calories and have very high concentration of fats and sugar. There are several types of fast food that contribute to obesity; the most common of them are sugary cereal, ready to eat lunches, chicken nuggets and fried chicken, cheeseburgers with French fries, and doughnuts (Fast Food Obesity). For example, an average doughnut has about 400 calories, a cheeseburger – 300 calories, and a serving of French fries contains around 240 calories. As compared to the 1970s, the consumption of fast food has grown fivefold. While the average number of calories that a person consumes in a day is roughly 2,000 (How Many Calories Does a Person Need Daily?), the above three meals combined already provide a half of the required norm. Considering the quantity of food consumed every day, it is obvious that the intake of energy received through meals is higher than its release.
What attracts consumers to fast foods restaurants is that they offer fast, inexpensive, and tasty meals. In the modern American society, fast food is everywhere. Restaurants are usually located within a walking distance. Delivery is always an option when someone wants to eat at home. According to the survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2006, almost 20% of all Americans visit fast food restaurants usually two times a week, while fast food chains compete to attract new customers providing bigger and bigger portions of meals. The expression “super-size me”, which was not known just some years ago but it is a common phrase now (Fast Food Statistics and Obesity in America).
The goal of fast food companies is to prompt consumers to buy products that they do not really need. More sophisticated research methods of advertising are implemented such as, for instance, play places and happy meals used by McDonalds. Food companies use tactics that combine promises of satisfaction with slogans that “melt grandmas’ hearts” (Stanish). Each year, fast food industry uses billions of dollars to generate new advertising and marketing strategies and develop products and packaging that would entice customers to buy more food. Fast food business is a very profitable market that can bring fabulous profits (Cohen).
As it was mentioned above, the issue of obesity can be directly tied to the rapid growth of fast food restaurant attendance over the last 30 years. That was caused, to a large extent, by advertisement techniques developed by fast food companies. Fast food restaurants provide inexpensive food that is prepared and served quickly. That looks very attractive to ever-busy American people. Fast food meals are very rich in calories and contain large amounts of fats and sugar. While the average daily norm of calories is about 2,000, people receive much more through foods they consume every day. The situation is aggravated by the fact that they do not use all the energy supplied by calories. Excessive energy combined with harmful chemicals present in fast food meals is the main factor leading to weight gain and obesity.