Over 300,000 deaths caused by obesity-related illnesses in the United States are reported every year. The obesity epidemic is almost three times as smoking in the United States with only twenty-one percent smoking and sixty-six percent obese. A number of organizations have raised issues with the effect of fast food on human health. The major industry players have made great profits through selling these foods at the expense of the health of their customers. The defense of these industry players has been more or less like one mounted by tobacco industries in the 50s (Brownell & Warner). These players have maintained that they control the number of calories being consumed by their customers. However, it has been clear that their marketing has been targeting children and innocent teenagers. This calls for regulation like the one imposed on tobacco producers. California has experienced rising rates of obesity in the recent past just like the rest of the American population. Currently, about 60% of Californians are obese due to their eating habits. In the last decade, it has been approximated that each Californian has been gaining one pound every year as a result of the consumption of fast foods (Burton et al).
Studies have shown that fast foods outlet do not provide nutritional information for their customers to make them understand before they do their purchases. Almost half of Americans admit that if this nutritional information is provided, it would change their buying habits (Burton et al). With more than fifty percent of the money for food is spent on fast foods, this would reduce obesity levels among adults in America.
Factors influencing the need for regulation
Marketing of food directed at children has been on the increase in the recent past with fast food establishments being located near schools. This has impacted negatively on the health of children. More than nine million children in America are obese as a result of consuming fast foods uncontrollably. Restaurants within half a mile of schools in California influenced children to consume more soda and fewer fruits and vegetables, therefore, are likely to be obese (Davis & Carpenter).
Pregnant women within proximity of half a mile to these restaurants, increase the chance by 2.5 percent of them likely to gain over 20 kilos. It also results in infants who are large for gestational age making it difficult for the mothers to deliver hence, the need for C-section (Anderson et al).
The majority of fast food is loaded with lots of calories from refined sugar. They also have calories from fats which are re-heated repeatedly while frying. The refined sugars have effects in artery-clogging and the fats are hydrogenated both of these cause serious health implications. They have a great deficiency in dietary fibers which are normally required by the body.
Consumption of fast foods is an addictive activity. Despite some people knowing that they are a health hazard, most of them continue consuming. Scientific studies have shown that contents of the fast foods namely, refined sugar, salt and fats have the ability to configure hormones in a way making users crave for more.
Consumers of wine and spirits (and other alcoholic drinks) have tendencies of ordering fast foods like pizzas as an immediate remedy to mitigate the effects of drinking. In California, there are several home delivery fast food outlets that tend to encourage such habits. The home delivery is only a phone call away.
Parents’ influence on their children to consume fast food has increased over the years. Busy parents find fast food attractive to them and their children. Single parents (both fathers and mothers) find cooking in the house a waste of time opting for fast foods. Marketers have targeted such parents which in turn reach their children. Adults are consuming three times more calories than they did three decades ago due to increased advertisements of these foods on media and other marketing strategies applied by the restaurants (Davis and Carpenter).
Fast foods establishment have increased in low-income neighborhoods. In California, poor people have greater access to fast food outlets. Supermarkets are not easily accessible in such neighborhoods. Schools in low-income environments have fast foods establishments near them compared to those in high-income neighborhoods.
Regulation of fast food advertisement to children should be regulated since most children do not understand the implications of consuming these foods. Restaurants selling fast foods near schools should be forced to regulate the amount of sugar and fats in the food. The selling of fast foods to children should be accompanied by additives that are healthy rather than sugary colas. There should be additional information on the content of the foods being sold to customers. This will allow them to make informed choices about the foods. If urgent measures are not put in place to control the effect of fast food, the population will be in for more obese-related ailments. Regulation of fast foods is essential to safeguard the health of millions of Americans who consume these foods. Measures imposed on these foods will have a significant reduction in ailments related to obesity like blood pressure, heart attack, cancer.
Anderson, Patricia M., Butcher, Kristin Frances and Phillip B. Levine “Maternal Employment and Overweight Children.” Journal of Health Economics, 22 (2003): 477-504. Print.
Brownell, Kelly D. and Kenneth E Warner. “The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar Is Big Food?” The Milbank Quarterly 87.1 (2009): 259–294. Print.
Burton, Scot, Creyer, Elizabeth, Kees, Jeremy and Kyle Huggins. “Attacking the obesity epidemic: the potential health benefits of providing nutrition information in restaurants.” Am J Public Health 96.9 (2006): 1669-1675. Print.
Davis, Brennan, PhD, and Christopher Carpenter, PhD. “Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity.” American Journal of Public Health 99.3 (2009): 505-510. Print.