Thursday, May 31, 2012

How is fast food affecting today's society?

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In the last few years I have witnessed many people growing in size and the large amount of fast food outlets been opened. After witnessing almost every fast food outlet in every suburb, I decided to research what affect all these fast foods were having on people. I decided to investigate the kinds of people affected by fast foods, how it affects those people and why they still purchase it regardless of health concerns.

Who does fast food affect?

Fast food affects everyone in today’s world. Whether children, adults or the elderly, they would all have been affected directly or they have relatives who eat it. Fast-food outlets now say that they are too often described or pictured as scapegoats for child obesity. But research from “The Listener” magazine shows that one in seven pre-teen children in New Zealand are obese AND eat fast food regularly. But fast-food outlets only deny that they are to blame and say that it is a matter of choice.

The main target for fast food companies are children. The reason for this is because children are easy to manipulate. Fast food companies have hit an all time low by targeting children in their advertising, products, and building facilities. For example, McDonald’s advertisements show kids eating their product, and being rewarded, the also give away a popular childrens toys in happy meals or kids meals as well as including indoor playgrounds for childrens enjoyment. My research has given me reason to believe that children are mostly affected by fast food outlets because they are so young and do not know the consequences.

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What effect does fast food have?

The consequences of obesity are tragic. Obesity can destroy someone both physically and emotionally. Emotionally, a child can get addicted very easily. This can make them obese. They will no longer live normal lives. They are more likely to called names at school. This can lead to depression, which leads to suicide. An article in “People” magazine said when people become addicted, it is very hard to quit. They will most likely stay obese for the rest of their lives. In this situation, they will have a hard time with relationships and peers. They will be treated almost like outcasts.

In a physical sense, fatty, sugar-filled foods increase the use of computers and television, which leads to a lack of exercise have. The situation has sparked outbursts for a fat tax, restrictions on childrens access to fast food and subsidies for healthy food. Dean Divehall, marketing director for Restaurant Brands, which operates the New Zealand franchises for KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, said the issue was not just fast food but lifestyle and exercise choices. Though I believe there is no denying that the fat content in fast food is below the healthy level. For instance, nutritionists say that he daily recommended intake of energy for an adult man is about ,00 calories, of which no more than 5% should come from fat and 11% from added sugars. Women should eat about 1,800 calories a day.

However, a meal at a fast food outlet - burger, chips, and drink - can deliver almost all of an adult man’s recommended daily calories in a single sitting. For example, a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese contains 516 calories. A large portion of french fries adds another 41, and an accompanying large milk shake another 500 calories.

The total is more than 1,400 calories, most of it coming from fat and sugar. By comparison, a leg of chicken with boiled potatoes and peas plus an apple contain about 800 calories, with a relatively small proportion comprising fat or sugar.

Fast food doesn’t only affect people in New Zealand though; obesity is the second leading cause of death among Americans, second only to tobacco according to “People” magazine. A major concern of obesity is the other health problems associated with over eating. Heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer are just a few of the associated problems that accompany obesity. I believe that from the shown data, it is alright to eat fast food as long as you are aware of the risks involved and maintain a healthy diet.

Why do people eat fast food when they know the consequences?

To simply put it, fast foods are addictive. The article “Burgers Are as Addictive as Drugs” from the “Sunday Times” from the UK said scientists have discovered that high doses of fat and sugar in fast and processed foods can be as addictive as nicotine � and even hard drugs. Once hooked, the researchers say, many people find it almost impossible to switch back to a healthy diet, often leading to obesity.

A conducted survey was taken with people from my class to find out their opinions on the matter. My survey showed that unanimously, people would rather prefer a meal at a fast food outlet than a healthy meal (salad) because of the taste, regardless of nutritional recommendations. My research also shows that people in my class were left felling hungry for fast food after watching their advertisements. Also being a witness of the advertisements myself, I can safely say that the companies do try to drag you in.

The evidence can be seen by lawyers preparing multi-million-pound claims from people who claim that their “addiction” to fast foods has damaged their health.

The addictive nature of fast foods has been determined by researchers at Rockefeller University in New York who found that regularly eating fast foods can quickly reconfigure the body’s hormonal system to want even more fat.

They also found that early exposure to fatty food could influence children’s choices so that they would always seek a similar diet, increasing the likelihood of obesity in later life.

The ministry of health says the growing number of health problems has caused many people to avoid fast food and attempt to educate others on the health risks of eating high fat meals. In response to this new attitude, fast food restaurants have launched campaigns for low fat foods and offer products that are better tasting and better for you. The most advertised example is the Subway food chain. Subway recently began its “seven subs with six grams of fat or less” staring Jared, a young man who lost over one hundred pounds on a subway diet. In addition to Subway, McDonald’s began serving new dishes comprising of alternative food like cooked chicken and salads. If people are persuaded to go to a fast food outlet because of advertising it should not be their fault. I believe that companies use a form of bait advertising to bring in customers. I believe that based on my survey, the advertising is done very well to bring in people at a young age.

After successfully obtaining the answers to the questions that I wanted to know, I realised just how serious this issue was. My class is a good example of people who have been affected directly by advertising. I was also astounded by the large numbers of people who ignore the facts. Even though there are still many campaigns to reduce the consumption of fatty foods, it all comes down to personal preference of eating something that tastes good rather than something that is healthy, and that is where we are losing the battle.

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