Devin DeWitt ENC 1102 Joseph Cottle 3/8/13 America’s Obesity Crisis It is no myth that Americans love to eat a lot. You can observe this by simply walking around your local fast food restaurant and noticing that most of the patrons are overweight which means that they have a body mass index (BMI) of 25.0 or higher (Defining Overweight and Obesity, 1). In America, more than anywhere else in the world, there is an obesity epidemic. Since the mid 1980’s, the number of overweight adults in the United States has easily doubled, even tripled in some areas. Now around 30% of the American adult population is considered to be overweight (Facts about obesity… 1). One factor that has contributed to this trend is the growing number of fast food restaurants and the availability of junk food. It seems fast food and junk food companies are marketing their food more than ever and targeting the younger population. This is why childhood obesity, a mere 5% in 1976, has skyrocketed to 16% of children in America in 2006 (Working Group… 2). The consumption of fast food has caused the United States to take the lead as the most obese country in the world. This is causing an uproar from the American public and in response, Americans have started a health revolution to change and reform eating habits and lower obesity rates. It is up to the American citizen to strike back with a wave of health and nutrition to combat this crisis. Even though it causes obesity, there are many reasons why Americans continue to choose fast food. First of all, it is convenient. You can not deny the fact that ordering a
complete meal through a small speaker then driving 20 feet to pick up your order a minute later is not easy and super quick. The invention of the drive-through has brought fast food restaurants a great deal more customers. Second, fast food is cheap. Typically for five dollars or less, you can purchase an entrée, a side, and a drink. For a healthy meal one would normally expect to spend around eight dollars and usually would have more opportunity cost as well. Finally, fast food is made to look like fun and very user friendly to the consumer. Fast food companies market their food like this because it draws in customers of all ages and ethnicities, and makes the consumer have less guilt about consuming a meal void of nutrition. Fast food companies frequently target the younger audiences in advertising. Companies like Burger King and McDonalds often feature their ads on children’s networks because they know kids are more easily persuaded into eating these unhealthy foods. This method of targeting advertising directly at America’s youth has been successful due to the friendly and happy nature of the commercials as well as the children not understanding the harmful effects of the food. The cycle of increased advertising and consumption has led to an epidemic that seems to only get worse. Statistics indicate that one-third of children and teenagers consume some type of fast food on a daily basis. As a result, it may now be necessary to put “a ban on advertising unhealthy foods to children” (Cutting Children’s… 2). In the long run, the advertising ban may be the key to stopping early development of poor “eating habits that are not only hard to break but potentially life-threatening” (Cutting Children’s…2). Children are not the only group targeted by the fast food industry. Fast food companies are targeting certain ethnicities, particularly Hispanics. “In 2009, Hispanic
children and teens were exposed to approximately one ad per day on Spanish-speaking TV, in addition to ads they viewed on English-language TV,â€? (The Restaurant Industryâ€Ś 139 ). This may not sound like a lot, but just that one commercial can be enough to ignite the urge to go to out and choose an unhealthy meal instead of a healthy one. Not only are Hispanic children influenced by TV commercials, but McDonalds also has a Spanishlanguage website called MeEncanta.com. McDonalds also advertises on websites across the internet with both English and Spanish billboards, so they are sure to target both audiences. This means they are twice as likely to draw in a potential customer. The reason these groups, such as Hispanics, are generally targeted is because many statistics show that their income levels are lower. This means they would typically be more inclined to purchase cheap fast food over more expensive, healthier food. The real nightmare is the amount of money spent each year to combat all of the diseases and disorders that are produced as a result of overeating and obesity. Over $75 billion alone in healthcare costs was spent in 2003 to combat health problems that were the direct result of obesity, with that statistic on the rise still ten years later (Facts about obesityâ€Ś 2). The amount we spend on problems stemming from obesity outweighs almost any other figure in healthcare. Before the existence of McDonalds and other greasy fast food chains, many diseases linked to obesity were rare. For example, Type 2 diabetes, which is primarily caused by being overweight, was not prevalent at all 30 years age. Today, more than half of the diagnoses of diabetes are Type 2. In 1980, there were only 400,000 Type 2 diabetes diagnoses in the U.S. and now, there are almost two million. This condition, once thought to be non-existent in young children, is now a growing health concern for this age group and the leading causes are an unhealthy diet
and overeating. Serious complications can occur from Type 2 diabetes, especially in later life. The sad part about this life threatening disease is that it is completely preventable by choosing healthy food over fast food and eliminating a diet high in saturated fats and sugar (The state of the USAâ€Ś 1-3). Americans need to take steps to promote learning more about nutrition and health in order to have a healthier and more physically fit population. Despite all the warnings and the growing trends in obesity over the years, many Americans refuse to get proper nutrition and exercise. More than half of Americans do not exercise regularly and less than a quarter eat the daily recommended quantities of fruits and veggies. These days, physical education programs have been eliminated from most high school's curriculums which mean children can start to get out of shape at a younger age. This has led to a large increase in childhood obesity and unhealthy lifestyles in children. The key to a healthy lifestyle is prevention, diet and exercise. There are many programs and nutrition guides that are designed to help a person lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain a balanced diet. This brings hope for Americaâ€™s obesity problem. The key to anything though is prevention and moderation. In an effort to make fast food more nutritious, restaurants are offering healthier choices and educating their consumers more thoroughly on what they are really eating. In the past, fast food joints were not required to publish any nutritional facts about the food they were serving; however it is now mandated that a nutrition label is displayed on all menu items. Despite this, some restaurants neglect to disclose their nutrition facts in an area where customers can easily see or read them.
Recently there has been a focus on fitness by government agencies and businesses to encourage Americans to exercise on a regular basis. The rising number of people concerned about their weight has contributed in-part to a growing awareness of how exercise can help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Staying physically active is one of the key ways to keep the pounds off. For individuals with an active lifestyle who exercise for at least an hour every day, there is a significantly lower possibility of becoming overweight or developing serious health issues. Television programs like Nickelodeonâ€™s Hour of Play encourage kids to get off the couch and go outside and play. This has been a very successful campaign and has improved the lives and outlook of thousands of kids. This is an example of how a TV company decided to be responsible and do its part to help out Americaâ€™s youth and encourage fitness. Staying healthy and in shape can be greatly attributed to having the proper nutrition. The low quality industrialized greasy food that drive-thru restaurants serve is not going to get you those cut abs that you always wanted. Not only is fast food loaded with trans fats, but also unknown quantities of other artery clogging ingredients pervade in it By eating a meal prepared at home, you can clearly see what you are putting together and how much of each ingredient you are getting. A healthy diet will not only make one look better physically, but feel better as well. Brain foods such as salmon and many types of vegetables are proven to make you age slower and maintain memory and intelligence better as you get older. Leafy greens and fruits are filled with anti-oxidants and help the immune system function properly. Basically anything natural without petrochemical fertilizers will positively benefit the body. Healthy foods that are natural contain vitamins and minerals that are essential to
proper body function and cell maintenance. With the proper combination of diet and exercise, the body will last longer, perform better, and will be less prone to illness and adverse health issues. Fast food restaurants make you believe their burgers are not as bad as they really are by topping them with a dash of lettuce and a few slices of tomato. However under those toppings, is a 100% all beef patty (we think) loaded with trans fat, cholesterol and an array of artery clogging sauces, all sandwiched between a genetically modified and processed (white roll) hamburger bun that is also very high on the glycemic index. In America, we like to do everything big, which includes every food from our burgers to our sodas. One of the biggest issues with fast food is that the portions you get at some places are enough for at least two people to share. McDonalds once had an option on their menu to “Supersize” your meal. Thanks to the movie “Supersize Me” and certain lawsuits, this was taken off their menu. Even though there is not a “Supersize” option on the menu any more, the large is basically the same amount of food, just presented in a different manner (McDonalds…1). By preparing your food at home you are able to see exactly how much food you are going to eat. You can make healthier choices about what food you are about to eat and know what is going into your meal. With the right set of tools, Americans can drop the surplus weight and all of the setbacks stemming from it. Though fast food companies are using sneakier methods to target specific audiences and appear more convenient, we are able to make the right choice to eat a healthier meal at home. Fitness and nutrition have positively impacted the American population and are continuing to make the country more fit and healthy. If we can prevent diseases like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes through moderation and
extinction of fast food, the citizens of the United States will be better off financially and physically. When all is said and done, itâ€™s up to us to make sure we create a healthier and more physically fit future for America. The fast food industry is not going to voluntarily do it for us. (Short!)
Devin, I think you got a good, solid paper here. A definitely important topic to write on, and one that can't be stressed enough. Though one thing I was wondering throughout: perhaps you could write some on what we CAN do to distance ourselves from fast food? The nutrition menu isn't working, the Supersize option is still there under a covert name, and so on. There's a few facts and pieces of info that need to be sourced, but you seem to have most of your bases covered. It's an entertaining, well put together piece for the most part As for the mechanics, I saw one dropped quote and one contraction still, so there's 5 points off. Just try your hardest to completely eliminate them for paper 3. And try to have the length - less than the full page count is 10 points off every missing page - since you have a couple, I'll take off 8 only 83 - B
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