- Food and Cooking
Impacts of Consumption of Fast Foods
Fast foods, most of which are also referred to as "Junk Foods” are particularly common in developed nations in the West. As compared to developing nations, which also tend to be agrarian, the Western nations are highly fond of foods despite the risks associated with these types of foods. In the past (years before the 1940s) people would eat healthy foods that were freshly prepared at home or even packed to eat at home/school. However, eating habits have significantly changed where people are eating less healthy foods and more junk food, which are highly processed and have high calories. For this essay, I will discuss cause and effect as it applies to fast foods, looking at the reasons why fast foods have become so popular and their impacts on society.
According to a good number of studies, the change or transformation from an agrarian society to a highly industrialized society has contributed significantly to the production and consumption of fast foods. With advancement in technology, a majority of companies found ways of producing foods that could be packaged in an attractive manner for consumers (Adams, 2007). However, this was also influenced by the fact that gradually, people became increasingly busy and pre- occupied with other priorities that they lack sufficient time to shop for healthy foods and prepare healthy meals. Changes in lifestyle are therefore some of the primary contributors towards preference of junk foods. With short lunch breaks, and loads of work in most companies and businesses, individuals only have a little time to rush for a meal, and fast foods tend to be the most ideal option (Glanz, Maibach, Goldberg & Snyder, 1998).
Food vs Food
Advertising is the other major cause of why fast foods have become very prevalent. Misleading advertisement has also attracted many more consumers, who are attracted to fast foods. Being a multi- billion industry (In the United States, it generated about $191 billion in 2013), the fast food industry spends billions of dollars ($4.2 in 2009) advertising to attract more consumers. According to an article "What's wrong with McDonalds", the author suggested that the company tends to promote their foods as nutritious, which is not necessarily the case (Burchell, 2008). This is misleading advertisement that may push consumers to increasingly consume these foods with a belief that they are healthy. In addition, the fact that people have become heavily reliant on these foods means that they will be fall victim to such advertisements in a bid to try and eat healthy without having to make healthy meals themselves.
With more and more people preferring fast foods as a result of various contributing factors, the effects have been shown to be significant. One of the biggest issues associated with high consumption of fast foods is obesity. In the united states, this problem has been growing, and even attracted the attention of the first lady Michelle Obama, who went on to adopt the "Let's Move Campaign" aimed at fighting childhood obesity and to enhance healthy nutrition (Borg, 2011). According to studies, obesity among children has risen to 15 percent from 5 percent 20 years ago. With fast foods being readily available and even cheap, young individuals are likely to choose them as compared to healthy foods. On the other hand, being overweight and obese has been shown to affect young individuals negatively, affecting their self- esteem and social life. This may negatively affect how a child interacts with others given that most overweight and obese children are more likely than others to experience ridicule and being teased by other children. On the other hand, it can affect their ability to concentrate in their studies due to cases of bullying and ridicule in addition to negatively affecting their health (high cholesterol and fatty streak development that can result in increased risks of cardiovascular disease)
On the other hand, fast foods have been associated with other health issues including increased blood pressure, risks of strokes as well as effects on kidney functions. For young individuals (teenagers and adolescents) heavy consumptions of fast foods has been shown to affect the amount of healthy foods they eat. In turn, this tends to affect their energy levels. By skipping other meals and opting for some quick snack or soda, these fast foods cause a spike of energy levels, which also plummet rapidly. This in turn causes the individuals to get more snacks and the cycle continues. In conclusion, high attraction to fast foods (junk foods) has resulted in a range of effects that have continued to affect the society negatively. The only solution is therefore to try and reduce consumption of these foods and consume more of healthy, nutritious foods.