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Fast Food: Faster Death

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    On February 1st, 2003, Morgan Spurlock embarked on a radical journey, one that would change his life, and the lives of many forever. For 31 straight days, Spurlock ate nothing but Mcdonalds. He had to eat everything on the menu, and he always needed to start off ordering all of his food large, but if he was asked to supersize, he would always have to oblige. The documentary he published was groundbreaking, and not only did it follow his journey, but it examined corruption in the eating habits of America’s youth. It explored at the wrongdoings of major fast food corporations and exposed some of the true dangers of obesity. Over those days, Morgan gained nearly 30 pounds, he also almost killed himself. He became depressed, tired, moody, and constantly hungry. According to one of his many doctors, he was addicted.

    An estimated 160 million Americans are either overweight or obese. Roughly thirty percent of children are overweight or obese. How did that number climb 11% from 1980? (BrandonGaille.com) Obesity-related illnesses are the number one leading cause of preventable death in the United States. (Easo.org) The fast food addiction begins at a young age. America’s youth are exposed to sugary, junky, fatty foods in their everyday lives. Schools all across the nation are feeding their children this junk food. The biggest problem with this is that the kids get addicted. Multiple studies have shown that fast food can be just as addicting as cocaine. (Why You Eat What You Eat, Herz, 6) This is due to a large amount of added sugar in most fast foods and processed foods. A salad at Mcdonalds has more calories than the Big Mac.

    Believe it or not, fast food consumption varies greatly based on many factors. This fact is in the graph, as women of certain ages eat more fast food than women of other ages, the same applying to men. As you can see, fast food consumption goes much further down the older you get. This may be because old people did not grow up with fast food being as convenient as it is today, they probably also have quite a lot more time on their hands, providing them a better situation to cook home-cooked meals every day. The older you get, the more money you probably have stored up as well, leaving you able to purchase fresh, clean, good ingredients.

    Although this also came as a shock to me, fast food consumption is actually greater the higher up in average income you go. So no, poor people do not eat the most fast food. “Overall, 31.7% of lower-income, 36.4% of middle-income and 42% of higher-income adults said they had eaten fast food. The fact that fast food consumption was associated with income surprised doctor Lawrence Cheskin” (Howard, CNN), just as it did me. I knew that fast food consumption would vary by income, though it would make more sense that the higher your income, the less fast food you would eat. The wealthier you are, the more exposure you have to fresh, clean, good ingredients. This is the one flaw in a plan that would involve higher taxes on processed foods, junk foods, and fast foods. If one is in fact in the upper-class, a tax would not affect them as much, and it certainly wouldn’t to hurt them enough. This point, however, is relatively invalid, as slightly over 20% of people who graduated from a college of some kind are obese, whereas a third of adults who did not graduate college are obese. (Easo.org) This could also be in relation to the added schooling college graduates have had. They may realize how bad fast food and processed foods are for them if they got enough school and learned enough about how terrible those foods are. If the people who did not graduate college did not get educated enough to know how bad for them fast, junk and processed foods are.

    If healthier, cheaper options for food would appear, this problem would become much easier to solve. The issue definitely begins in the education system. Children do not get nearly as much physical education as they need. Some school districts give their students 45 minutes of gym every week, this is dangerously low.

    For the problem to be improved, school districts need to find healthier alternatives. It would be very beneficial for school systems to either purchase their food from a healthier supplier or encourage students to bring healthier lunches in. A healthy lunch program chargers less than 2 quarters for each lunch they supply to a school. (Heidi, Email, 12/12/18) This is not much of a price difference at all compared to the processed food lunch suppliers schools hire. If children are not exposed to fatty food at such a young age, addiction is less likely to occur later in life. There are exceptions to this rule, as Donald Gorske, commonly referred to as “Don” by friends, ate 9 big macs on the first day he tried them. He now eats about 750 Big Macs every year and intends to continue doing so until his death.

    The list of things the government can do to stop this problem is endless, though the most effective would be a tax or very harsh and severe laws aimed toward the major fast food chains, who use nothing but processed foods. India imposed a 14.5% tax on food at popular chains such as Mcdonalds, Burger, and Pizza Hut. This was done to curb the rising rates of obesity in India. (LearningEnglish.com) India had nearly 30 million obese people slightly before the tax was imposed, putting them in the top 5 fattest countries. That number has slid down greatly, probably due to the large tax the government placed on those fatty, junky, fast foods. (CNN.com) If there is evidence of how to fix the problem, why won’t the government pass a bill to fix this problem? One of the reasons could be the lack of good, clean, fresh and affordable food. If taxes on foods like that were lowered it would help with this problem even more.

    The government should create new laws that regulate what schools serve for lunch, and any other meals schools serve as well. The government should also encourage healthy lunches, and put laws into place that help healthy lunches go from a dream to a reality. These simple laws would help America become less obese and less overweight as a nation. Though America is one of the best nations of the world, it carries a stigma because of its status as one of the heaviest countries in the world. All of the higher-ups in the government would certainly love to go down in weight. These laws may be argued at first because people seem to enjoy the taste of processed foods that are seen everywhere. As they began to eat less and less of these processed foods, they would stop arguing because they would feel so much better. A small tax on processed foods could go such a long way in ending the obesity epidemic in America. If food powerhouses, such as Nestle, or Kraft, introduced a line of healthier food options, that were also relatively fresh and cheap, I am sure they would be a huge hit in two ways. The first, on a financial basis, and the second, on a health basis. People would write rave reviews if the companies could find healthy ways to make the food taste fantastic.

    The addiction begins at much too young an age. Children are commonly given fast food and processed food before they are old enough to decide if they like it or not. They might, if given enough of it, never try enough varieties of healthy foods, and only try disgusting ones, then fast food would be part of that person’s life forever. Government laws, regulations, or taxes would go a long way in improving this critical issue. “The children are the future”, that common cliche has a glaring hole inside of it. Does anybody really want their future in the hands of a bunch of fast food addicts? This addiction could be just as bad as cocaine, or other drugs, because of the immensely adverse health effects it has on your entire body. This point cannot be stressed enough, in fact, if children continuing consuming fast food at rates scientists have never seen before, there may be no future, or the future could be a very grim one. (Knoji.com & Healthline.com)

    As Eric Schlosser explained in his groundbreaking book, “Fast Food Nation”, Cheyenne Mountain rises steeply from the prairie and overlooks the scenic city of Colorado Springs. It looks like your classic rocky mountain vista. However, Cheyenne mountain houses one of the United States most important military bases. The complex was built throughout the 50s and 60s, designed specifically to withstand the direct hit of an atomic bomb. Fifteen hundred people work there. It is a futuristic missile base, built with some of the best technology available, and designed so that nothing can affect it. It is entirely self-sustaining, all 1500 employees could last for a month inside of the Air Force base. The base will commonly send an employee to nearby Fort Carson, another military base, to pick up some burger king. Nearly every night, a Domino’s delivery driver winds his way past all of the caution signs, and gets near the Steel Blast doors, weighing north of 20 tons each, and drops off some pizza, and collects a tip. The driver passes the Sobering and ominous “Deadly Force Authorized” sign. It shows America’s addiction. If some awful enemy decides to make American skies rain with bombs, and this base is destroyed, they will find keys to American life and civilization. The bible, blue jumpsuits, comic books, they would also find Burger King wrappers and boxes that previously contained pizza and cheesy bread. Is that really how America wants to be remembered? A bunch of fast food wrappers and boxes. (Schlosser 1 & 2)

    Mcdonalds feeds 68 million people every day, nearly 1 percent of the world’s population. (TheFiscalTimes.com) Mcdonalds has some of the best french fries money can buy, and believe it or not, french fries are the most eaten vegetable in the world. (BrandonGaille.com) This shows just how preposterous the obesity epidemic has become in recent years. If broccoli has the most eaten vegetable, I am sure there would be much, much less obese people in the world today. Obesity-related illnesses kill much too many people every year, and the cure is so simple. Another major problem is advertising. These fast food companies and makers of processed foods can get up to 10,000 opportunities to make children think that is where they should eat.

    If there was a marketing campaign that advertised healthy foods that taste great too, the obesity epidemic would become much less of a problem. The solutions to this problem are everywhere. Next time, when you’re going to get some processed food, think again, and take some broccoli off the shelf, make your own dinner. The small things you can do to ensure your health and your families health are infinite. Something as simple as changing the channel when a fast food or processed food commercial is on will go a long way.

    Works Cited

    1. Bastien, Debbie. “Facts About Fast Food Addictions.” All Articles RSS, ZipfWorks Inc., 2011, addictions.knoji.com/facts-about-fast-food-addictions/.
    2. Gaille, Brandon. “31 Important Mcdonalds Obesity Statistics.” BrandonGaille.com, BrandonGaille.com, 23 May 2017, brandongaille.com/29-important-mcdonalds-obesity-statistics/.
    3. Gunnars, K. (2018). How Food Addiction Works (And What to Do About It). [online] Healthline. Heidi, Email, 12/12/18
    4. Herz, Rachel. Why You Eat What You Eat: the Science behind Our Relationship with Food.
    5. Norton & Company, Incorporated, W.W., 2018.
    6. Howard, Jacqueline. “Here’s How Much Fast Food Americans Are Eating.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Oct. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/health/fast-food-consumption-cdc-study/index.html.
    7. Lenzo, Krysia. “McD’s Salad Has More Calories than a Big Mac.” CNBC, CNBC LLC, 5 Feb. 2016, www.cnbc.com/2016/02/04/mcdonalds-salad-has-more-calories-than-big-mac.html.
    8. Lubin, Gus. “13 Disturbing Facts About McDonald’s.” The Fiscal Times, The Fiscal Times, 30 Apr. 2012, www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/04/30/13-Disturbing-Facts-About-McDonalds.
    9. Ogundimu, Tomi. “How Americans Eat Fast Food, in 4 Charts.” Advisory Board, Advisory Board, 2018, www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2018/10/05/fast-food.
    10. Organization, World Health. “Obesity Facts & Figures.” EASO, Easo, 2013, easo.org/education-portal/obesity-facts-figures/.
    11. Pasricha, Anjana. “Indian State Imposes ‘Fat Tax’ on Fast Food.” VOA, VOA, 21 July 2016, learningenglish.voanews.com/a/southern-indian-state-of-kerala-imposes-fat-tax-on-fast-food/3426103.html.
    12. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. Debolsillo, 2007. Spurlock, Morgan, director. Super Size Me. Supersize Me, 2004, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1NnrXknRNg&t=2893s.

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